Torres to make decision on CUC board Monday

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will issue a decision on Monday whether or not the current members of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board would be retained since the corporation has faced numerous issues regarding the recently cancelled procurement of a much needed 8- to 10-megawatt diesel engine.

Torres told the media yesterday that a decision would soon follow on Monday after he meets with CUC board members yesterday and today. The decision would not only cover retaining current CUC board members, but would also touch on topics such as the direction and the “overall view and approach for CUC.”

The recent CUC blunder of the emergency procurement of a multi-million dollar diesel engine raised numerous red flags for the Legislature, even going as far as the calling of an oversight hearing by both the Senate and House Public Transportation and Utilities committees. According to both committees, there was a possibility that the CUC board had a conflict of interest in the emergency procurement of the engine.

“I prevent any board member from sole sourcing without the proper approval. The situation that [CUC is] at; and that transparency is [paramount]. With that issue, I would be coming out on Monday making sure that all the issues before us [are] taken into consideration before a decision is made on Monday,” Torres told the media.

What of CPUC?

The long-stagnant Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission has been left in the dust with no members and no office since late 2016. With no members to run CPUC, Torres told the media that there were efforts on his end to contact qualified and willing candidates for the three-man membership to keep CUC in check, but the candidates are mostly “not willing to assist.”

“I have talked to several qualified people that are qualified but are not willing to assist or just has the wrong timing in their capacity. I am looking; I ask the Legislatures to give me some names. We continue to look for applicants and potential members,” said Torres.

Even if CPUC comes back to life, another question surrounding CPUC is their budget allocation. As of today, it is understood that CPUC has yet to be assigned an amount for their budget specifically.

“We are working on that,” said Torres.

The reasoning behind the engine

Torres took this opportunity to clarify the need for the engine. According to Torres, the administration paid CUC an amount close to $13 million to “buy at least one engine and also be transparent with how we get our request for proposals or RFP.”

“That is the agreement that we made with the legislature to pay our back debt as well as our word to [U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge David O. Carter] to use local funds to assist in revitalizing our own power plant—I don’t take that lightly. Before we reach a decision, I would like to make sure that all information is accurate and correct,” assured Torres.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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