Senator raises concerns about CUC water electric charge


Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) has raised concerns about the formula for calculating the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s water electric charge, including the total cost of electricity in running the water system and computation accuracy.

“Also, who are actually paying for this WEC [water electric charge]? Although CUC claims that 98.5 percent of its customers are metered, this number is questionable as many metered customers today have water meters that are defective and their billings are actually only being ‘estimated’ month after month. So is everyone actually paying their fair share?” Manglona asked in a May 12 letter to CUC executive director Alan Fletcher.



The senator has yet to receive a response from CUC.

Manglona, a former Senate president, said the water electric charge was first imposed on CUC consumers in 2012 “and remains a very contentious water billing issue today.”

This is in addition to CUC consumer’s water service fee and water usage fee, “and in most instances is more than 100 percent of the consumer’s regular monthly water billing,” Manglona added.

The Rota senator said CUC’s decision in July 2013 to petition the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission to ease the burden of low-income ratepayers—eliminating the charge for the first 300 gallons of residential water service—“was a good start.”

But he said CUC’s Nov. 8, 2013 decision to withdraw the water electric charge policy rate modification petition “will only perpetuate this heavy burden on residential customers, especially the low-income customers.”

Manglona noted it has been almost a year since CUC informed CPUC on July 5 that the corporation’s master plan has been completed and submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to be able to modify the water electric charge rate policy.

“Please inform us as to what is the next step for CUC in moving forward with this WEC billing issue. As you mentioned, another option is to coordinate testimony with the consultants. This might be a necessary plan in order not to further delay discussion on this very important issue,” Manglona added.

The CUC board of directors recently approved the transfer of the water electric charge from the water division to the electric division to avoid confusion among customers.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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