KIUC wins SmartMeter referendum

SUBHEAD: KIUC wins battle for no-SmartMeter surcharge and loses the war for hearts and minds.

By Doug Wilmore on 25 January 2014 in Island Breath -

Image above: Waking up from the Matrix (the Grid) and detaching. From (

If you look at the stock market news and results concerning publicly held electrical companies you will see that the smart money is moving away from this sector --- not involving just the coal generating plants but the entire sector.

Solar and other renewables are the competition, and no matter what the PUC does to attempt to prop up the electric companies in Hawaii, people are voting with their feet and moving to solar.

The utilities will counter by changing their rate structure (with the blessing of the PUC) or possibly limiting rooftop solar, but those move will be countered by changes in technology.

At present, used batteries from hybrid cars are being refurbrished to 80% capacity and installed in homes in Japan. Home generating units installed on lease will follow.

New housing developments will likely install their own power units and undercut centrally located older power sources.

The military will come of the grid because of its vulnerability to hackers and shut down, a national security problem.

While the PUC in Hawaii will continue to support the utilities over the people the evolution of electric power generation will do much more than passive government regulation to change the land scape.

Smart CEOs on the mainland are embracing these changes and altering their business model. To plan for the future the PUC needs to support smart and creative business managers, not smart meters. The change it is a coming.

KIUC board decision stands
SUBHEAD: Members of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative voted to keep a fee structure in place that charges only members who opt out of using a smart meter.

By Tom Hasslinger on 26 January 2014 for the Garden Island -

Of the 10,901 ballots received, 8,010 voted in favor of the fees while 2,797 opposed.

The nearly 11,000 ballots amounted to a record turnout for a co-op election, with 43 percent of the 25,205 members casting a vote, according to a KIUC press release Saturday.

“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, in a press release. “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.

The deadline to vote was noon Saturday. The election began earlier this month after concerned members petitioned to have the issue put to a vote.

The results broke down to 74 percent in favor of the fees, while 26 percent were opposed.

The nearly 3,000 votes against the fees mirrors the number of people who have opted out of using a smart meter since the co-op began installing them.

Had the board’s decision been overturned, fees for servicing non smart meter users — roughly $340,000 a year — would have been spread across all members.

Those against smart meters have cited health and privacy concerns with the devices.

Jonathan Jay, one of three drafters of a petition which ultimately sent the issue to a vote, said he was more excited about the high voter turnout than disappointed about the result.

He called the mass participation a positive sign and a step in the right direction.

“It’s awesome that so many people took part in the election,” said Jay, who is running for a board seat, after learning the outcome. “I think that’s good for the co-op and good for democracy and I think that’s the most important thing for a co-op. And I’m glad we’ve had that conversation.”

Members voted by mail, by phone and online between Jan. 4 and Saturday. The election was conducted by Merriman River Group, a Connecticut-based election management firm.

Counting was observed by a representative of the Oahu branch of the League of Women Voters, KIUC said in the press release.

The cost of the current election has been pegged at $63,000.

The campaign season saw advertising by both sides, as well as a injunction request by member Adam Asquith that aimed to block the co-op from collecting non-smart meter fees, but it was denied in 5th Circuit Court last week.

The previous record voter turnout was 34 percent in the 2003 directors’ election, when 7,595 members voted, KIUC said.

Thirty-two ballots were marked over or under, which means they either voted for neither or both decision-points.

Sixty-two ballots were voided, which could be for a marked out bar-code so it couldn’t be read or the ballot wasn’t returned in the special envelope or the member voted online and then sent in a mail ballot.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's foolish electric company 1/19/14

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