Say NO! to KIUC-FFP Deal

SOURCE: Fred Dente (koikoi1@hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: Wake up people! Our future health, welfare and security are determined by what we decide now. Vote NO!

By Fred Dente on 13 June 2011 for The Garden Island - 
http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_03a4b3ea-9592-11e0-af4b-001cc4c03286.html)

  
Image above: Text modified poster promoting the movie about Enron "The Smartest Guys in the Room".



[Editor's note: PDF file of Recall Petition form available here (http://www.islandbreath.org/2011Year/06/110622KIUCrecall.pdf).]  

To all KIUC voting members: By voting NO in the KIUC special election, you’ll be voting for a new era of accountability, transparency and true member control of our Co-op. Your NO vote signals the beginning of the end of KIUC’s plantation system, and an affirmation that you want our vital energy company to become pono in it’s future business practices and decisions. It is the wise choice for our future.

A YES vote will mean a continuation of business as usual: the highest energy prices in Hawai‘i and America; secret deals with questionable foreign entities; approval to unqualified executives to continue making unilateral decisions in our name; the accumulation of more unnecessarily huge debt load for “consulting fees” and over-inflated contracts; and a total lack of Democratic Member Control (the 2nd Cooperative Principle).

Voting YES means you are either uninformed, you don’t care to take responsibility, or you trust KIUC’s myopic managers, or any combination of the above. It was extremely frustrating for most of us to witness and participate in KIUC’s Special Meeting of the Membership on June 4 at the Veteran’s Center in Lihu‘e.

To me, it graphically represented the ongoing struggle KIUC faces as it transitions from its past as a good-ol’-boy tool of the plantation system, to the corporate plantation model it now wants to embrace.

The main problem with that scenario is that, somewhere in between those two systems, the Board of Directors chose to adopt the universally accepted Co-op model as a way to involve the customer/rate payers as owners who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

We, the owner/members, were not informed prior to KIUC’s decision to hire Free Flow Power until after the deed was done, in the darkness of night. That, and other protocols were not followed, as illustrated by Adam Asquith in his excellent power point presentation on Ho‘ike Channel 52 Public Access television. That program is still running, please watch it. It’s called “KIUC Citizen’s Panel on FERC Hydroelectric.”

From everything I’ve read, seen and heard, CEO Bissell said that Free Flow Power was chosen because of a recommendation by Bill Collet, an investment banker from Kansas City. No other reason that I know of has been given. That’s not enough for me, especially when I learned about FFP’s track record in hydroelectric and their background in the business world. Because of their use of FERC to protect them legally, FFP has acquired many hydroelectric permits. But, they have completed zero projects.

So far, it seems, there has been a lot of financial wheeling and dealing going on, but no measurable success in producing electricity. Yet, KIUC’s CEO David Bissell, calls them “the preeminent hydro power company in the world”. But, what is really alarming to me is that the founders and top executive officers of FFP were previously employed by UBS, the United Bank of Switzerland. UBS recently pleaded guilty and paid a $780 million fine, the largest tax fraud conspiracy case in world history.

 In an April 22, 2011 TGI story, Bissell said the co-op did not wish to publicly announce its intent to file permit applications out of concern that “outside energy developers” would also try to file permit applications for the same resources. Isn’t Free Flow Power an outside energy developer (with no track record)? Why should we trust them? Why should we trust KIUC to hire FFP? Bissell further said: “Now, with two of the six permit requests approved, KIUC is ready to reach out to the community for feedback”. That is not pono. In a cooperative, there is no provision for secrecy in major decision-making.

It all seems to be part of KIUC’s strategy to rush this deal through without giving it a public airing and due diligence, which violates almost all Seven Cooperative Principles of its governance system. I have friends who work at KIUC, and who are on the Board of Directors.

I totally support our co-op governance model, and I want KIUC to be the best, the greenest, the most democratic and efficient energy company we can possibly have. What’s currently happening at the top of the food chain at KIUC is not nearly good enough. Send a message to KIUC.

Please vote NO to Free Flow Power. It’s a simple choice. FFP is suspect, and the whole process is humbug. I don’t think FFP would ever succeed here in Hawai‘i, because of all the opposition to the FERC process. And, without the feds to run interference, FFP is powerless.

No matter how long it takes, the process must be pono, and we must keep local control and home rule, as much as possible. Our children and our grandchildren will thank us for planning ahead by making visionary and progressive decisions with them in mind. Wake up people! Our future health, welfare and security are determined by what we decide now. Vote NO!

 See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: FERC You! 6/9/11

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4 comments :

  1. Classic - whoever disagrees with you is either uninformed, irresponsible, or trusting of KIUC's myopic managers. Those managers are so myopic that they have led KIUC to be 2nd in the nation in solar watts installed per customer, have entered into a biomass contract that will supply 10% of island's needs, and now wants to develop responsible hydro to further distance themselves and Kauai from oil. Those managers are your neighbors, family, and friends, who happen to be experienced professionals with engineering degrees and MBAs. Wow... never thought I'd hear such a ringing endorsement for energy "business as usual" on this blog. Why not support this effort in a constructive way so that you can end up having a say in how hydro gets done responsibly. Or are you only interested in a fight?

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  2. Sorry Bear, but since when does "sustainable at any cost" as you seem to be advocating, make a good policy?

    I guess taking the nuanced position that it does matter HOW we get our sustainable energy infrastructure built just resolves to "NO HYDRO" ( or -inexplicably- "business as usual" ) to some.

    And friend, we ARE supporting hydro and sustainability in a constructive way by seeing that agricultural, environmental and cultural considerations are part of the process. FERC would marginalize these critical issues--that what it's for, after all.

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  3. In case anyone else has had same problem of getting blank page to post comment, Iʻm posting what Juan suggested for me:
    Hold the "control" key down when clicking on the "Post a Comment" link.
    When option menu pops up select "Open Link in New Tab" (or "New Window"). Then go to the new tab (or window) and comment page will be there.

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  4. Anyone who believes KIUC is a legitimate co-op has never belonged to a real one. Co-ops are formed by groups of people committed to either group savings and/or group influence. A co-op mutually and equally benefits all members. What makes co-op members proud to participate is the on-going value they get as members. People worldwide love their co-ops. (Take Costco, for example.) It’s hard to love KIUC, because there’s no “us” there and never was.

    KIUC is a sham, and that fact has been boldly underscored by the recent hydro-electric proceedings. This non-cooperative “co-op” should not be permitted to proceed with something as grandiose and all-encompassing as the FERC/Free Flow project without absolute transparency and island-wide in-put.

    There are only two ways KIUC can salvage credibility at this point. They can start over regarding hydro, and they can confabulate with the rate-payers about how to lower our rates.

    There has been endless double-speak, hidden financial agendas, non-communication, disrespect to we owners of KIUC, steam-rolling in a fashion that has become a symbol of “progress” on Kaua’i, and abuse of power. The KIUC Board has bitten the hand that feeds them.

    We need to pull back from the hysteria and false urgency, stop using “sustainability” as an excuse to forge blindly ahead, and evaluate whether this “co-op” serves us at all. We, the real we -- KIUC owners -- also need to get financial control of our co-op, starting with wasteful and bloated spending.

    Vote NO on the hydro-electric issue, as a show of power if nothing else, then start demanding legitimate co-op behavior.

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