The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has filed for its first rate hike in 12 years, with an increase of 9.42% which will raise the average residential customer, who uses 500 kilowatt hours a month to approximately $19 per month.
KIUC’s last base rate increase was in 2010, and it’s been said that the growth in electricity sales has lagged far behind inflation, hence the necessary adjustment.
The electricity sales have increased just 5% during the past 12 years while inflation has soared 37%. This rate hike comes as electricity bills around the state are going up. This rate hike will have an impact on the Kauai’s economy, from homeowners and commercial establishments to hotels, resorts, as well as the people who then shop at the stores.
The proposed rate increase comes at a time in which the cooperative said it is facing operational cost increases, and the need to invest in utility infrastructure, plus significant costs associated with the development of a Habitat Conservation Plan for endangered species. This combination will reduce annual margins to a level that would no longer be compliant with lender covenants.
It’s been said that the new rates likely won’t go into effect until the second half of 2023, since the last time KIUC proposed a rate increase, it took the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) more than a year to approve it. The commission will have to look at several years of KIUC’s financial data before it is finalized and implemented.
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Sean Ahearn & Jim Karlovsky