CUC issues disconnection notices to OAG, 9 others
Tag: CUC, disconnection, OAG
The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has issued disconnection notices last week to the Office of the Attorney General, Northern Marianas College, and eight other agencies over failure to pay past due utility billings as of March 31, 2023.
CUC board of directors chair Janice A. Tenorio and CUC acting executive director Betty G. Terlaje disclosed yesterday that disconnection notices were delivered Wednesday last week to the OAG, NMC, the Marianas Visitors Authority, Mayor of the Northern Islands, Northern Mariana Islands Settlement Fund, Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, and Department of Public Lands.
The following day, Thursday, CUC delivered disconnection notices to the Office of the Mayor of Rota, Office of the Mayor of Saipan, and Office of the Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan.
Tenorio said it’s been many years now since CUC issued disconnection notices to government agencies.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to work with the administration and the autonomous agencies in regards to resolving their arrears,” Tenorio said.
CUC gave the OAG and the nine agencies until May 24 to pay or settle their past due utility billings, or else power and water services will be disconnected the following day, May 25.
According to the CUC, the OAG owes $33,618; NMC $52,522; MVA, $24,407; Mayor of the Northern Islands, $19,940; NMI Settlement Fund, $49,917; Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, $46,781; DPL, $694,255; Mayor of Rota, $115,645; Mayor of Saipan, $64,331; and Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan, $730,199.
Terlaje said many of the government agencies that were issued notices called them already and are meeting with CUC’s Customer Service and the accountant who’s in charge of government accounts.
Terlaje said they’re reconciling bills for those that feel that the charges are not accurate.
“Some of them asked if they can pay the water and wastewater, but they want to look further into the electric and verify some of the numbers that they have,” she said.
Terlaje said it’s a 14-day notice for the reason that they can verify and come back to them and make sure they agree with the number.
She said some of them are disputing the water or sewer charges so they are meeting to resolve the matter.
“There’s a process to dispute. You just don’t dispute after you get a notice. You have to dispute when you get your bill. If you feel that it’s incorrect, you can’t wait two years later and dispute because then we have no means to verify whether the water is leaking,” Terlaje said.
As of yesterday, there were several meetings lined up and a couple of them were held that day.
Terlaje said the Judiciary came in and are working with their staff to verify some of the information.
She said they sent out letters of disconnection primarily because the government takes its time to pay.
She said it’s not easy to just send out a regular notice and disconnect because the government is a public service, so when they shut down, people are also affected.
“Unfortunately, in the last few years, a couple of years, two or three years, there hasn’t been much payment and so that’s the reason why it’s time now to send out these notices again,” Terlaje said.
Last May 3, CUC delivered disconnection notices to the CNMI Supreme Court over unpaid utility billings and charges in the amount of $2,486,634; Legislative Bureau, $38,487; Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, $50,927; and Northern Marianas Housing Corp., $547,769. The date of their disconnection is today, Thursday.
Last April 19, CUC served disconnection notices to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. over unpaid utility billings in the amount of $53,686,518, and to the Department of Public Works over unpaid utility billings in the amount of $1,122,565.
The date of their disconnection was last May 4, but it did not go through as CHCC settled with CUC, while DPW disputed their billings.