Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has admitted that there are direct and indirect costs associated with the power purchase agreement that he and former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham signed.
Fitial, through assistant attorney general David Lochabay, however, denied that anyone will be forced to pay under the power purchase agreement.
Fitial made the admission and denial on Feb. 8 in response to the complaint filed by the Senate and Rep. Janet U. Maratita (IR-Saipan) and then representative and now Sen. Ray A. Yumul (IR-Saipan).
The Senate, Maratita, and Yumul are suing Fitial, Buckingham, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and Saipan Development LLC in Superior Court over an alleged illegal $190.8-million PPA.
Buckingham last Jan. 29 submitted his answer to the lawsuit. He admitted that the PPA that he signed on Aug. 3, 2012, provides for a payment of $190,827,300.
In Fitial's answer to the lawsuit, Lochabay denied that the PPA contractor, Saipan Development LLC, is a mysterious company.
Fitial also admitted that an Option to Lease was executed for public lands in Lower Base.
The governor said no power plant could be operational by 2013 and that the amount of costs and expenses as alleged in the lawsuit is purely speculative.
Fitial stated that he was exercising his discretionary authority as governor, and that the actions he took being complained of by the plaintiffs were those of choice and judgment typically committed at the discretion of high government officials.
Fitial said he was then assured and advised by Buckingham that the actions he took were legal and within his authority as governor.
Lochabay also asked the court to substitute the CNMI government for Fitial in the lawsuit.
“This substitution of the CNMI as the defendant in such cases is mandated by Public Law 15-22 because P.L. 15-22 also provides that a suit against the Commonwealth is the exclusive remedy for those claiming injury by reason of acts of Commonwealth employees acting within the scope of their employment,” Lochabay said.
Lochabay said that Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas has also filed a certification that Fitial was acting within scope of his employment when he allegedly took the actions being complained of.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare the 25-year power purchase agreement “unconstitutional, illegal, unconscionable, and unjust, and therefore, cancelled.”