$10M utility vouchers on the way


Gov. Eloy S. Inos said Best Sunshine International Ltd.’s $10 million worth of utility vouchers for residential customers of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will be out soon.

He said while the Executive Branch is not part of negotiations between the Hong Kong-based investor and CUC, the two parties have told him that they’re hammering the final details on how the $10 million utility vouchers will be given to CUC’s more than 11,000 consumers.

“We’re not going to be part of the process. We were consulted on the method for how that payment will be made. We met CUC and Best Sunshine and they’ve agreed on how it’s going to be done. We should expect by Oct. 11 or 13, that’s when the money should flow. There should be a procedure in place in which residential customers would be given the utility vouchers for credit into their accounts,” said the governor in an interview with Saipan Tribune.

Inos said his administration is glad that Best Sunshine is fulfilling its part of the bargain that netted it the exclusive Saipan casino license.

Best Sunshine has committed to plunk down $7.1 billion to build an integrated casino resort project on Saipan.

“It’s a contract. I’m just happy that they’re able to stick to it,” added Inos.

House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications Committee chair Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), meanwhile, wants Best Sunshine to just give the $10 million outright to CUC.

“I already recommended to Best Sunshine through their counsels, [Viola] Alepuyu and [Charles] McDonald, that rather than going through this application process to determine who’s eligible, why don’t they just give that $10 million to CUC and let it determine how much rate relief they can give on the LEAC, which CUC is charging all the customers.”

LEAC stands for levelized energy adjustment clause and is the fuel cost component of consumers’ monthly CUC billing. It goes up and down depending on the price of fuel.

“Give it to CUC and CUC should show consumers how much rate relief they can get from that $10 million. That I think is more fair,” said Deleon Guerrero.

Rep. Roman Benevente (R-Saipan) seconded Deleon Guerrero’s call.

“I support that [proposal]. I would rather see the $10 million go to CUC and to LEAC but not to the government’s debt. CUC should say how low they could go with the LEAC charge after they receive the $10 million. How much they can go down with the LEAC charged to consumers and how long it will last and what percentage is the rate relief?”

Benavente said Deleon Guerrero’s proposal is more equitable in the long run for all residential customers of CUC.

“If you do it across the board and give CUC the money, then more or less CUC can anticipate and earmark how much [is the savings]. It will be across the board and everything is fair, whether you’re Filipino, Chamorro, Chinese, or what, as long as you pay CUC.”

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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