CUC wants clarity on bill about subsidy


Commonwealth Utilities Corp. legal counsel Jim Sirok and CUC executive director Gary Camacho discuss the ambiguities in House Bill 20-146 at the CUC board meeting on Thursday. (Bea Cabrera)

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. wants Rep. Francisco S. Dela Cruz (R-Saipan) to clarify a bill that would use the casino tax to subsidize the fuel adjustment charge and the actual electrical use of CUC’s residential customers.

In a meeting last week, the CUC board talked about ambiguities in Dela Cruz’s House Bill 20-146, with CUC executive director Gary Camacho saying the original appropriation was toward the FAC, but now the House is looking to incorporate the usage aspect as well.

“This will actually pay off both components of the electrical bill outside of any reconnection or disconnection accounts as FAC base rate and usage are considered into appropriation for all residential customers,” he said.

However, Camacho said the bill should state clearly if the subsidy from the casino business gross revenue tax pertains only to active residential customers or whether inactive accounts are included.

“These are questions that are coming in all day long at customer service and we are trying to get our specifics so when the funding comes it will be under immediate application but we need to clearly define the line,” he said.

CUC legal counsel Jim Sirok shared the same sentiments that the bill has to define clearly if aside from the FAC and usage rate, if the $7 base rate is also included.

“Gary and I have been talking about this because we have not submitted comments yet. If you look at this proposed House bill, it’s for the FAC and usage, so when you look at that, it doesn’t include the $7 base rate,” he said.

Sirok said it makes better sense if the base rate is included in the subsidy.

“I don’t know if the board would like us to comment if the base rate should or should not be included. It would make it a lot easier for all if the base rate were included because it will just wipe it off the total electric thing, instead of having to carry the $7 charge,” he added.

Camacho said they are going to propose that the $7 base rate be included in the subsidy when they respond.

“I’m hoping to organize our comments where we will put what we believe needs to be included and we will present it to the board for review,” he said.

“It will greatly help us too [at customer service] in so far as our billing is concerned because it [will] reduce a lot of phone calls from our customers asking the same question,” he added.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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