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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Governor extends CUC emergency anew

Gov. Eloy S. Inos extended anew yesterday the state of emergency declaration for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., just days after CUC filed separate lawsuits to collect utility billings totaling $18.87 million from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Public School System, and the CNMI government.

In his Executive Order 2013-27, the governor also cited the approximately $18 million debt to CUC by PSS and CHC, along with “millions more” owed by residential utility users.

“There is conflict and potential conflict between CUC and government agencies over money owed and other issues. Such conflict drains resources especially if it results in the parties going to court. Interagency cooperation and oversight is vital to ensure that government agencies can continue its operations without draining CUC’s remaining resources,” Inos said.

CUC remains under a state of emergency not only because of these uncollected utility payments, but also because of CUC’s continued lack of a board of directors and lack of U.S. workers with specialized skills and training for its operations.

Under an emergency declaration, statutory or regulatory provisions are suspended, and all available resources can be reprogrammed to respond to the emergency.

CUC also bears substantial obligation to deliver highly technical work in time to the satisfaction of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pursuant to two sets of consent or “stipulated orders.”

The Dec. 16, 2013, emergency declaration for CUC is in effect for another 30 days.

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