CPUC seats to be filled


Reviving the moribund Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission by filling up its vacant board member seats is already in the pipeline.

The CPUC is the governing body that regulates the rates and services of public utilities such as electricity supply, water supply, and telecommunications. The commission is also responsible in ensuring the public that utilities offer safe and reliable services.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. falls under its jurisdiction because the corporation provides the CNMI’s electricity and water supply.

By law, the CPUC is required to have five board members to complete a team that would be in charge of overseeing the operations, finances and projects of all utility firms in the Commonwealth.

Three board members will be from Saipan, one member will be from Tinian, and one member will be from Rota. There is currently one active CPUC member whose tenure is expiring soon.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is now in the process of getting qualified persons on the CPUC board and is conducting vetting procedures to make sure the board is composed of the right people.

Concurrently, organizing the board members for CUC is also in the governor’s crosshairs.

In a letter dated June 21, 2017, to the Legislature, Torres nominated James Diego Benavente to serve as a CPUC board member, representing Saipan.

Benavente has a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

He is currently working at the Bureau of Environmental & Coastal Quality where he provides technical and engineering support in reviewing permit applications and conducts performance testing and certification in the wastewater and erosion field.

His appointment to the CPUC board requires the confirmation of both the Senate and House of Representatives. If confirmed, he will serve a four- year term, which became vacant on May 24, 2016, and will expire on May 24, 2020.

The governor’s appointment of Benavente to a CPUC seat was released two days before Torres left Friday morning to attend the 2017 Western Governor’s Association Annual meeting in Montana.

Bea Cabrera

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