The board of directors of Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) voted to appoint incumbent director Calvin Murashige to complete the unexpired term of former director Allan Smith, who resigned in November.
He was one of three directors whose terms expire in March 2015. By appointing Murashige to the term that expires in 2016, only two incumbent directors will be up for election in March, guaranteeing that at least one new director will be elected.
“In this instance, moving an incumbent director into the unfinished term lets the membership decide who the new board member will be sooner than any other process,” said Jan TenBruggencate, chairman of the board of directors.
Under the cooperative’s bylaws, board vacancies are filled by a vote of the remaining directors. Incumbent directors are eligible for appointment to unexpired terms and the KIUC directors have done this in the past in an effort to retain the knowledge of experienced directors.
The directors also elected TenBruggencate chairman, succeeding Smith, and Murashige vice chairman of the board.
TenBruggencate, a longtime journalist and communications consultant, was first elected to the board in 2010. Murashige is a retired Circuit Court judge who was elected in 2012.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a $39.5 million operating budget for 2015, the third year the cooperative has kept controllable costs at or below the average rate of inflation.
Since 2012, the operating budget has increased an average of 1.6 percent per year, in line with the Honolulu Consumer Price Index over the same period.
The budget reflects the commitment of the cooperative board in its 2013-2025 Strategic Plan to keep controllable costs below the inflation rate even as the price of equipment, materials, services and benefits have risen higher.
The operating budget does not include the cost of fuel and purchased power, the single largest item in KIUC’s overall $178 million budget. The cost of commodities is estimated at $91.3 million in 2015, down nearly 11 percent from 2012.
The lower cost of commodities reflects the decline in the cost of oil as well as the increased use of cheaper renewable energy sources.
The operating budget reflects the elimination of 6 fulltime positions through attrition, reducing the staff level from 157 to 151, a 4 percent decrease.
Other highlights of the 2015 budget include:
- $2.7 million in repairs and improvements to the Lihue Plantation’s old Upper Waiahi hydroelectric plant, which is now owned by KIUC.
- $2.5 million for KIUC’s Habitat Conservation Program to protect endangered seabirds, up 29 percent from 2014, reflecting the requirements of state and federal wildlife protection agencies.
- $2 million to retrofit 3,500 streetlights from high-pressure sodium vapor lights to energy-saving LEDs.
- $625,000 for ongoing work to move utilities underground along Kūhiō Highway in Wailuā. Total project costs for 2015-16 will total $2.5 million.
- $510,000 for two bucket trucks, three pickup trucks and one emergency generator.
- $330,000 for the second phase of a new customer information and billing system that will make more billing and payment options available online by the fourth quarter of 2015.
The board also approved 2015 goals for President and CEO David Bissell.
Among his tasks for the coming year is to complete an assessment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel to replace oil for power generation and to recommend whether to proceed with LNG or discontinue efforts.
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