William Gilmore, the newly hired deputy executive director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and Antonio B. Castro, its new chief financial officer, can’t wait to lend their expertise and experience to the embattled utilities agency.
Gilmore and Castro were brought in under the judicially mandated stipulated order No. 1. Under SO No. 1, CUC must fill executive-level positions, with the utilities agency still waiting on a new executive director as well as a drinking water and wastewater division manager.
“I look at this as an opportunity to bring my own skill sets into an area that hasn’t been filled in for a number years,” said Gilmore. “So I wanted to bring my experience, which consists of operational experience in consulting as well as an executive director, to accumulate some of the benefits and efficiencies of having seen how we can do things at other locations. We can apply those teachings here and offer some opportunities to add new efficiencies and ideas. It is a very creative opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to several years of active conversations and progress to the benefit of the community in Saipan.”
The current executive director of CUC is Gary Camacho, who occupies the position in an acting capacity.
Gilmore said he has a transparent relationship with Camacho.
“I rely on him to give me advice on stuff he knows because I don’t really know some of the technicalities here. …We are in sync, we talk the same language, and we are both forward thinking and we want things to get done right,” he said.
Camacho, for his part, acknowledged the instant rapport with Gilmore: “We are working very well together. We are a group that is driven to address stipulated order projects both one and two and we’re going to achieve what we set out to do.”
Castro himself is optimistic, saying, he has had experience as a budget officer, financial analyst, accounting chief, auditor, and an inspector general.
“Being that I’m originally from here, I feel like I have the education and training that could be used in the CNMI. Seeing that the economy is growing, I think it is a great opportunity to assist in that,” Castro said. “Even though we are not financially stable, as a CFO, my job is to bring that up, look for ways to do things better, smarter, and cheaper while benefiting everyone at the same time. It will be difficult at first, but with the right mindset, we can achieve it through hard work. In the end when I can deliver water, power, and sewer to the CNMI and keep them comfortable on those aspects, I will feel like I have achieved my job.”
Camacho said with Gilmore and Castro on board, CUC is on the road to recovery.
“I think the new addition with the CFO, [deputy executive director], and eventually the division manager will add to an already strong team that has been put together in the last year. Staff development is an essential part of…moving forward,” Camacho said. “The organization is heading in the right direction. We’ve got an excellent team and we’re all working together to deliver outstanding utility services to the CNMI.”
CUC is plagued by an aging power plant, power grid overtaxed by an increase in economic activity, as high as 70 percent loss of water it produces, and insolvency due to power bills owed by the government and residential customers, among other issues.