The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is hiring a firm to go after the largest debtors who have yet to pay more than $600,000 in overdue accounts in a move to shore up its revenues, officials said.
Board directors of the government-owned corporation have approved a request from CUC Executive Director Timothy P. Villagomez to retain an independent agency to pursue the debt collection.
“We are requesting to contract on a contingency basis so that there is no cost to CUC and have the firm collect on those debts that are determined to be collectable so that we may resolve these with the best result possible,” Villagomez said.
According to CUC comptroller, the four top largest debtors comprise about $600,000 of the uncollected bills but the amount may go higher once other delinquent accounts add up.
Most of the overdue bills come from commercial establishments and others are residential who have yet to settle their debt for the past few years.
In a recent study conducted by CUC, at least 364 businesses were disconnected from its power system between October 1997 to September 1998 due to delinquent payments.
“There is a lot of delinquent accounts and CUC’s resources do not allow me to collect these things,” he said in an interview. “We will get somebody who is an expert in this area… so that we can see what we can do to try to resolve this uncollected money.”
The utility firm is stepping up efforts to collect overdue bills because of its shaky financial condition as a result of the worsening economic crisis in the Northern Marianas.
Villagomez earlier has said CUC income has been flat in recent months due to lack of generation capacity to supply power, particularly to large hotels and factories which have yet to hook up with its system.
These commercial users normally have their power generator, thus depriving CUC of available revenues. Its current capacity of 65 megawatts falls short of the peak demand on Saipan.
The slump has forced the closure of more than 1,000 companies over the past year and has triggered a cut down in power consumption of most hotels due to low room occupancy.