House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications chair Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) urged the three-member Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission yesterday to require audits first before even considering utility rate increases.
Deleon Guerrero said that paying consumers should not be penalized for the CNMI government’s unpaid obligations to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., amounting to $17 million to $18 million.
“The people have spoken that any rate increase would be devastating and detrimental to their livelihoods,” he said in a letter to CPUC chair Joe C. Guerrero.
Deleon Guerrero reiterated his concerns during the House PUTC Committee’s meeting yesterday afternoon with Guerrero and two other CPUC commissioners—David B. Guerrero and Oscar Quitugua—on a host of CUC issues.
Of paramount concern is CUC’s proposed utility rate increases.
Deleon Guerrero said CUC should be audited first “and then determine if CUC is warranted a rate increase.”
He said CPUC should thoroughly examine CUC’s current finances, obligations, spending practices, wages, and earnings, among other things.
The freshman lawmaker said CUC consumers must be accorded complete understanding of the reasons why CUC is asking for a rate increase.
He said publication of the rate hike petition and public hearings must be held.
Deleon Guerrero, in an interview yesterday, said he is also drafting a bill that requires CPUC to have a management audit done on CUC.
Based on a petition filed in July, CUC proposes a rate hike on its electric base rate effective Oct. 1. A CPUC hearing has yet to be held.
CUC said it has been incurring operating losses amounting to $74 million since 2006.