Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) pre-filed Wednesday a Rota legislative resolution requesting the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to reconsider its imposition of the Fuel Adjustment Charge.
The resolution also asked CUC to be creative in finding alternatives to avoid any utility rate increase every time fuel costs go up.
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. This means the FAC charge will be 19.49% higher effective today. 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.
Santos stated in the resolution that in the event that the FAC increase is absolutely necessary, then CUC should consider a gradual increase in order to lessen the financial impact on consumers.
The senator said CUC must be diligent in collecting outstanding utility billings from government agencies and public corporations to avoid having paying consumers shoulder the cost of subsidizing those who do not pay their billings fully and timely.
She said families on Rota, as well as the families on Saipan and Tinian, are in serious need of immediate financial relief due to the high cost of fuel, increased utility rates, and the steady increase in the prices of goods and services.
Santos noted that the cost of gasoline on Rota is now $8.04 per gallon, $8.30 per gallon on Tinian, and $6.56 per gallon on Saipan.
She said Public Law 10-36 exempted CUC from paying the $0.15 fuel tax in order to provide relief on the fuel cost to the corporation.
The senator cited a news report last June 21 about Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signing Bill 295-36 into law, which imposes a six-month moratorium on fuel surcharges and other taxes on liquified fuels.
In December 2021, the Torres-Palacios administration provided residential households with a $500 utilities voucher credited to CUC taxpayer accounts to stimulate the economy and help families.
In mid-June 2022, the administration provided a second local stimulus debit card of $500 per taxpayer to stimulate the economy and concurrently help out the families in the Commonwealth.
In February 2022, Senate Joint Resolution 22-08 was introduced requesting Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig to provide financial assistance to meet the increased demand of fuel costs in the CNMI by implementing a $500 fuel voucher program.
In June 2022, House Resolution 22-20 strongly urges Torres to issue a new CUC utilities voucher.