Oversight hearing sought on soaring utility bills
Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) strongly appealed Tuesday for the Senate and House of Representatives to immediately conduct an oversight hearing on the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. over the continued increase in utility costs.
As this developed, Rep. Corina L. Magofna (Ind-Saipan) disclosed Tuesday that she is working on something right now to implement an emergency/temporary deferment of the CUC Fuel Adjustment Charge.
Santos told Saipan Tribune that an oversight hearing by the Senate and House committees on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications is called for so that taxpayers are fully aware as to why power charges continue to go up.
“This is an injustice and unacceptable to our ratepayers,” the senator said.
Earlier, Santos called for the CNMI Office of Grants Management and State Clearinghouse to look for grants and other financial incentives to support the development and use of renewable energy in the CNMI.
The senator noted that fuel on Rota now costs over $8 a gallon and continues to increase, while the cost of electricity for the island’s residents continue to soar.
On Tuesday, CUC announced that its Fuel Adjustment Charge will be increasing from 0.36225 per kilowatt-hour to 0.43285 per kWh effective July 1, 2022.
CUC said its fuel supplier, Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc., has notified them that there has been an increase in the average international fuel oil prices that will affect the FAC.
Magofna said Tuesday that she would be meeting with House PUTC chair Rep. Richard Lizama (D-Saipan) first thing Wednesday morning to discuss CUC’s impending power rate increase.
Magofna said they will discuss how they can assist the public through legislative action, schedule a meeting with Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission board members to see what their plans are to mitigate this issue, and consider conducting an oversight hearing with CUC as soon as possible.
CUC said it is required, pursuant to an order previously issued by CPUC, to adjust up or down the FAC pass-through rate when the Mean of Platts Singapore monthly pricing equals or exceeds a 4.5% differential of the average per gallon cost of fuel used in the calculation of the current FAC rate.