CUC customers get $166 subsidy

Posted on Aug 08 2017

Pursuant to the supplemental budget law, Public Law 19-75, each residential customer of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will be credited $166.49 this month.

In a statement yesterday, it said that CUC will distribute utility billing credits by subsidizing the fuel adjustment charge, as provided under P.L. 19-75, which allocated $2 million for this purpose.

The subsidy that is applied is strictly to offset the fuel adjustment charge and will benefit each active residential electric account, including prepaid meter accounts, as of July 17, 2017.

The billing credit will show up in the consumer’s August billing.

CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho said the subsidy applies to the FAC only and not to any other components of the residents’ power bill.

The FAC subsidy is limited to residential accounts and is a one-time credit per CUC account number and is not based on the number of people living at the service location.

The credit has no cash value, is not redeemable for cash or service, and it is not transferable.

The FAC subsidy credit is non-disputable under the billing dispute provisions of CUC regulations.

The money for this subsidy is derived from gross revenue taxes paid by the casino license holder, as provided under Public Law 19-75, which was the supplemental budget of the CNMI government for fiscal year 2017. It became law in December last year.

In 2014, residential CUC customer got a subsidy on their utility bills amounting to $635.71 per account, courtesy of Best Sunshine International.

“As a consumer, the subsidy is greatly appreciated and a wonderful gift from the government to the public,” Camacho said. “What is also nice about this is even though you did not exhaust the FAC in July, it would roll over to the following month so it is equally distributed,” he added.

Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, lauded the issuance of the long-awaited subsidy. CUC’s announcement comes nearly eight months since P.L. 19-75 was enacted. 

A section of the law, 4 CMC Section 2308, states that a portion of casino BGRT is to be used to subsidize the FAC, formerly known as LEAC or the levelized energy adjustment clause, rate, that would otherwise be passed on to utility customers.

“The announcement from CUC that the $2 million appropriated to subsidize the FAC on active residential accounts has been finally distributed is welcome news,” said Demapan. “Although this is a one-time credit per CUC account number, ratepayers can expect to see future appropriations from the Legislature as additional revenues sourced from casino BGRT continue to paid by the license holder.”

Demapan said his committee continues to work with the Torres administration to make supplemental appropriations as a result of casino BGRT revenues. P.L. 19-75 appropriated a total of $40.9 million in December. Furthermore, the House and Senate recently passed Demapan’s House Bill 20-103 HS1 appropriating $28 million from casino BGRT for the payment of the government’s largest outstanding land compensation judgments. HB 20-103 HS1 is now on Torres’ desk for his review and action.

Today, Demapan will introduce HB 20-108 to appropriate $1.4 million from casino BGRT for the payment of the remaining outstanding retroactive lump-sum payment to active and inactive employees whose wages were frozen.

“These legislations combined account for $70.3 million in revenues collected from casino BGR taxes and, if all become law, will translate to significant amount of revenues making its way back into the Commonwealth’s economy,” said Demapan. “As these funds continue to be collected, it will mean more funding sources for [the Public School System], [Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.], other pending land compensation cases, and medical referral, to name a few.”

Demapan noted that he is reviewing all other pending land compensation judgment and claims to come up with an amicable solution to uphold the government’s commitment to make whole with the affected landowners as funding sources become available.

Bea Cabrera

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