The Senate has adopted a resolution urging the CNMI government to appoint a special assistant for public utilities and communications.
Senate Joint Resolution 19-03 was adopted during a Senate session held on Rota last week. Sen. Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan) introduced the resolution.
In his filing, Palacios noted that “it appears that the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission is only authorized to review rates and not to establish public utility policies or plans that are not related to rates.”
S.J.R 19-03 seeks a utilities chief whose main responsibility is to “take the lead in establishing a comprehensive public utilities and communications policy and plan for the Commonwealth.”
The utilities chief will also “advise and make recommendations” to the governor.
For the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Palacios cited that the governor has executed every 30 days a state of significant emergency declaration “due to the imminent threat of the inability of the CUC to provide critical power generation, water, and wastewater to the Commonwealth.”
Aside from the CUC, the utilities chief will also be tasked to make recommendations on communications services including “broadband Internet.”
Palacios’ resolution specifically cited a recent communications outage that effectively isolated Saipan and compelled the declaration of yet another state of significant emergency.
The special assistant will also be tasked to “review the exclusive agreement between IT&E and its predecessors and the Commonwealth government, report on the benefits and disadvantages of that agreement and recommend whether or not the agreement needs to be revisited to ensure that the people of the Commonwealth continue to receive the best available communications services.”