Fletcher: Fiscal emergency still real at CUC

Despite rumors the Legislature may eventually overturn its state of emergency, Commonwealth Utilities Corp. acting executive director Alan Fletcher said the utilities company actually benefited from the executive order.

Among these benefits, Fletcher said, is the current processing of contractor’s licenses with the licensing board, which for some time was not functional due to lack of quorum. The Board of Professional Licensing issues license or certificates of authorization to off-island bidders.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial also cited as reasons for the emergency extension CUC’s continuing cash shortage, which threatens to halt power, water, and wastewater services because of the lack of funds to buy diesel and lube oil for its operation.

Fletcher told Saipan Tribune that this emergency situation is obviously evident in the current operation of the agency.

“As far as the fiscal emergency is concerned, that’s still real [at CUC].because we live in a week-to-week operation,” he said.

He pointed out that cash flow problems at the agency have resulted in significant amounts of money that CUC owes vendors.

Because CUC operates as a non-profit, it relies heavily on its own revenue from customers, many of whom are in arrears amounting to millions of dollars.

CUC chief financial officer Charles Warren earlier disclosed that the agency recorded approximately $21.7 million in total collectibles from its customers, including government and private entities as of May.

Of the amount, $9.3 million as of May 21 was incurred by the agency’s three biggest customers-the central government, the hospital, and the Public School System. Approximately $12.4 million was then owed by other classes of customers. This figure keeps going up and down as a result of some partial payments made to the agency.

Warren told Saipan Tribune on Monday that CUC is still living within its means.

Fletcher said the executive order, for one thing, ensures that everybody will work together on the table to solve the crisis at the utilities firm. “One good thing about this E.O. is it ensures that we’re going to work together and solve that problem, and we’re committed to do that.”

Despite its cash flow problem, Fletcher remains confident that CUC will deliver on the expected power and water generation needed by its customers.

Fletcher declined to give further comments on the issue of alternative or renewable energy plans of CUC, saying that CUC is working closely with the Fitial administration on this. The administration is poised to award a 20-year renewable energy contract to U.S.-based American Capital Energy Co., whose local business partner is Herman Sablan.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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