CUC opposed to transfer of Rota water system to DPW


A proposed bill that will transfer control and management of the Rota water system to the island’s Department of Public Works is facing strong opposition from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., which said the proposal will create a major change in the operation of the utility agency.

Senate Bill 18-40, currently with the Senate Public Utilities Committee, seeks to transfer water utility service on Rota to DPW in a bid to lower water rates on the island.

Water and electric services on Rota were originally under the control and management of the Rota DPW. All electric, water, and sewer utility services were later placed under the management and control of CUC.

According to the bill, the Municipality of Rota had invested a substantial amount of its capital improvement projects’ funds to develop the water utility service on Rota. The bill states that returning it to the Rota DPW will provide closer attention and immediate response to complaints raised by customers.

CUC executive director Alan W. Fletcher, however, is opposed to the idea. He pointed out that Rota customers—like Tinian customers—enjoy “blended” electrical and water rates. This means that because costs to the two islands are higher than what is charged Saipan customers, their rates are actually being subsidized.

“Rota enjoys that blended rate. They may pay a little bit more on the water side but definitely they have blended rate on the electric side,” he said.

He revealed that there’s 32.7 cents per kWh subsidy on electric rates for Rota.

Fletcher recommended that the Legislature conduct more studies before acting on the bill.

“We think the best option here is to ask the Rota delegation to petition the CUC board to do an island-pacific water rate,” said Fletcher.

He maintains that management and control of the water utility service must be kept by CUC. There are also other operational and regulatory subsidies to consider before any transfer is acted on, according to him.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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