KIUC FFP Waimea Meeting

SUBHEAD: It appears not KIUC, nor its membership, is in charge of hydroelectric development on Kauai. By Juan Wilson on 19 April 2011 for Island Breath - ( Image above: KIUC CEO David Bissell publicity photo. From ( A few things have become clearer to me in recent days. On Thursday, April 14th I attended the Apollo Kauai meeting in Lihue. From what I heard is seems as if the road to a partnership between Free Flow Power and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has been a marriage made in heaven. In late 2010 FFP and KIUC were in contact over development of hydro-electric development on Kauai. No agreement between the parties was reached. FFP, on their own initiative, applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision for permits to develop hydro at several sites on Kauai, including the Hanalei, Makaweli, and Wailua Rivers as well as the Kitano Reservoir and Kekaha Ditch systems. This forced KIUC's hand, and the co-op entered negotiations with FFP to share in the development of hydroelectric power. As presented this arrangement appears to put KIUC in the position of client/owner and FFP in the role of their consultant/expert. Apollo Kauai Meeting Adam Asquith, who has spearheaded an effort to have the members of KIUC have a vote on whether the FERC process should be used to accomplish this goal, raised several good points. He began with the hypothetical question: "Where can we develop hydroelectric resources on Kauai?" - his answer is that this is the wrong question. He observed that water is a complex issue in Hawaii and cannot be approached as a simple resource. There are local and cultural issues that FFP (and for that matter, KIUC) are blind to. Adam added that the FERC process will ultimately alienate jurisprudence. Once passed the permit state the FERC project can be licensed and then can override state and local considerations - even bringing eminent domain be the federal government to the issue. This is a guarantee to a potential developer that they will not be stopped once a certain point has been crossed. Adam is convinced that following FERC will lead to endless lawsuits in Hawaii courts. Adam is a supporter of hydroelectric, but thinks KIUC/FFP has jumped the gun and is spoiling the chances of Kauai getting the right process in place. Waimea KIUC - FFP Meeting It began at the door with some party give-aways - a free bag of rice, a tote bag, a four-pack of 60w compact fluorescent lighbulbs. Then there was some food laid out inside the Waimea Theatre loge area. KIUC was reaching out to the community. Last night Linda Pascatore and I attended the KIUC meeting at Waimea Theatre that was primarily an opportunity for Free Flow Energy to calm the frayed nerves of the public over the issue of hydro-electric power plans for the island of Kauai. After hearing the KIUC and FFP presentation there was time for questions and answers. I asked if KIUC would consider following a path of financing residential solar-PV for customers rather than embarking on projects that require financing out to 2023 to achieve alternative power independence? The reason - Oil prices are rising fast, the Middle East is in increasing turmoil, our economy has not recovered and entering a second dip of the Great Recession looms. We are at $110 per barrel oil today. It's likely, as it happened in 2008) when oil reaches a critical price all financing will disappear and we will likely not even reach the 2015 goals of KIUC. Linda Pascatore made the point that so often there are public meetings where people express opposition or doubt about development projects and are overwhelmingly ignored. She asked when the planning for these projects was in place whether KIUC would allow island residents an up or down vote on going ahead. The answer - No. One of the most pointed questions came from Linda Estes who asked:
What if KIUC decided that it wished to withdraw from the FERC permitting process at some point - what would happen to those permits?
KIUC President and CEO David Bissell's answer was that those permits would revert to Free Flow Power.
This says much about the relation of KIUC and FFP. Rather than KIUC being in charge and using FFP for their expertise in hydroelectric it appears that KIUC is a brand fronting FFP's efforts to develop hydro. This opinion was only reinforced by Bissell's statement that KIUC and FFP only developed a contractual agreement in the last two weeks - four months after the plans for hydro-development with the FERC process began. This from a KIUC press release on 3/31:
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative today announced that its board of directors has approved the signing of final agreements with Free Flow Power Corporation (FFP) to pursue the joint development of several small hydroelectric projects proposed for the island of Kauai. These agreements solidify a relationship first announced in January. Under the terms of these agreements, FFP has transferred ownership of six previously announced hydroelectric development projects to KIUC. KIUC will oversee the development process of these and potentially several more projects in order to ensure that the interests of the people of Kauai are protected. KIUC recognizes that the island‟s urgent need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based power must be balanced with agricultural, environmental, cultural, and recreational interests in order for a project to be successful. FFP will continue to serve as development advisor, providing KIUC and the people of Kauai with access to a team of nationally recognized experts in their respective fields.
Other KIUC plans were discussed as well. The westside is particularly concerned with air quality and health risks regarding the bio-energy plant proposal. All in all it was friendly crowd with serious questions. After the meeting I asked David Bissell the question I think is crucial to understanding the motivation of people with big energy plans.
Would you live on Kauai if it were not electrified? Dave's answer; No.
It is a trick question, but the answer tells me much about the responder's commitment to the island and flexibility in lifestyles. A press release indicates that prior to joining the cooperative, Mr. Bissell served as manager of financial forecasting and reporting for Cinergy Corp, which is now part of Duke Energy. He joined KIUC as chief financial officer in August 2006. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of New York at Brockport, and his MBA from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Dave Bissell lives on the North Shore of Kauai. Please attend one of the two remaining KIUC FFP metings. Lihue Peace & Freedom Convention Hall Tuesday, April 19th 6-8pm Kilauea School Cafeteria Wednesday, April 20th 6-8pm .

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Why do we Kaua'i residents-slash-"co-op"-members sit back and take this? There's nothing cooperative about this quote-unquote co-op and never has been. It's a complete fake in OUR names. They're handling this hydro thing exactly like every other abuse-Kaua'i scheme before them: abuse the power, ignore the by-laws, take the money, and appease the little heathens on the ground. That's us (always at the bottom of the list). Every time you switch on your computer or watch Dancing With the Stars, know you're voting to have no vote. We should ALL be irate about our rates, FFP, and KIUC's masquerade as a co-op. I'm not afraid of the dark.

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