The membership of Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative has voted overwhelmingly to keep the fees that are charged to customers who don’t want to use a smart meter.
With a record 10,901 votes cast out of 25,205 ballots mailed to members, 74 percent voted to keep the fees while 26 percent were opposed.
The turnout was the highest in KIUC history, with 43 percent of the members casting a ballot. The previous record was 34 percent in the 2003 directors’ election, when 7,595 members voted.
“The record voter turnout along with the big margin for ‘yes’ votes suggests that the vast majority of members were engaged, understood what was at stake and wanted to send a clear message that they supported the board’s decision to charge the fees,” said Allan Smith, chairman of the KIUC board of directors. “We’re grateful for that support and we thank the members on both sides of the issue who took the time to vote.”
Since November 2013, KIUC has charged $10.27 a month to customers who choose not to use a wireless smart meter.
The charge, which was approved by the Public Utilities Commission, covers the cost of manually reading the meters. KIUC also charges one-time fees to customers who ask to have their meter switched to anything other than a smart meter.
Under the cooperative’s bylaws, members can challenge an action of the elected board by filing a petition. A group of members obtained a sufficient number of signatures on a petition to put the fee issue to a vote of the membership.
Members voted by mail, by phone and online between Jan. 4 and Jan. 25. The election was conducted by Merriman River Group, a Connecticut-based election management firm. Counting was observed by a representative of the Oʻahu branch of the League of Women Voters.