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Sunday, April 20, 2014

CPUC assures CUC ‘management audit’

The Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission is seeking the Legislature’s help in order to have full authority to go over any and all operational aspects of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

CPUC chair Joseph Guerrero disclosed that the commission has formally requested the Legislature to enact legislation that will amend the CPUC Act.

The commission’s target: to perform a management audit on CUC’s operations.

“We have recommended a bill to authorize CPUC to perform and engage in management audit. We’re the only one among other commissioners that has no power to engage and use that audit [in making decision for an entity],” disclosed Guerrero.

He said the bill is now at the House committee level for review.

Guerrero explained that there are several types of audits, and the “management audit” will be an important tool for the commission when formulating orders.

The current law provides limited authority to the commission. Saipan Tribune learned that CPUC at present could only accept information as presented by CUC, specifically its numbers and figures.

“Right now, CPUC can recommend and suggest expenses for specific items, but we don’t go out and research. Without this management audit, we’re not operating like other commissions,” said Guerrero.

He said the management audit will be done independently and could be challenged anytime by any entity. This, he said, must also be agreed to by CUC.

“We want to make sure they’re performing at the peak. It is a tool for us and will be done independently,” he said.

This revelation was welcomed by members of the public that attended Monday’s regulatory hearing, with high hopes that concerns disclosed about alleged “mismanagement” at the utilities corporation will be addressed.

The CPUC is composed of three members: chair Guerrero and members Dave Guerrero and Oscar Quitugua.

On Monday, the regulatory body initially approved not only CUC’s electric base rate proposal but also other recommendations, including the 36-month refund for residential users, select non-rate fees, and infrastructure surcharge, among others.

A final commission order is expected next week when the CPUC resumes its meeting.

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