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CUC losing 24% of power demand

Residential customers’ power bill up by about 5% even as bill of commercial customers drop

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing the power billing of residential customers to go up, and power billing of commercial establishments to go down, according to Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive director Gary P. Camacho.

With people staying home due to the closure of businesses, governments offices, and schools due to COVID-19, CUC’s power revenue from residential customers has increased about 5%, Camacho said in an interview last Friday. He doesn’t see such an increase is “too much.”

CUC, however, is losing significantly from commercial customers because many businesses have closed down. Camacho said he has no information as to the exact amount of the drop in CUC power revenue from commercial customers but he said his information is that the overall power demand alone has decreased by 24% since last January.

He was quick to add, though that the closure of businesses is good to fight the pandemic. “Health is paramount. Health is the forefront of any effort,” said Camacho adding that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres have been doing well in fighting the spread of the virus. He said CUC wants to continue assisting CHCC and the government.

During CUC board of directors’ meeting last Friday, Camacho reported that CUC Power Division’s electrical engineers began last April 7 the assessment of power distribution services to the ongoing construction of the Commonwealth Health Center field hospital at CHCC’s upper level parking lot. He said an assessment for power distribution services involves the design of a power connection set-up that will connect the field hospital to the existing power distribution lines.

“The engineering design of the power connection set-up will reference CHCC’s load calculation in order to properly supply CUC power to all medical equipment housed in the field hospital,” he said.

Camacho said the field hospital will service a treatment center for future patients infected with COVID-19 and is part of a preparedness and infection control measure supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for billing collections from the central government, Camacho disclosed that the government paid CUC $1.39 million last month, and that the more the government pays CUC, the more that helps the consumer side.

“We need to get payments. Our only concern is collection. We’ve got to get payments in order to sustain,” he said.

Camacho said they are dependent on the payments for services rendered from the month before. “Wwe are dependent on the revenues from the month before to sustain the month after,” he added.

Last month Camacho disclosed that the central government owes CUC $9 million.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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