CCU approves rolling back May rate increase - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

CCU approves rolling back May rate increase

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Guam Power Authority is taking the necessary steps to not only ensure that its moving forward in providing alternative energy to the people of Guam, but that ratepayers reap the benefits and most of all savings at the same time.

It's not a done deal just yet, but during Tuesday's Consolidated Commission on Utilities regular board meeting, commissioners approved a resolution to rollback GPA's May rate increase. GPA spokesperson Art Perez says it's a welcome adjustment that all parties seemed to agree on, telling KUAM News, "And the whole purpose of the refinancing was to provide that relief and I think that all the parties agreed that some relief is in order. So it's been forwarded to the PUC and hopefully it will be approved in time for your December bills."

Perez says the savings from GPA's bond refinancing last month exceeded the $9.1 million rate increase so the price hike is no longer necessary and allows GPA to rollback the entire rate increase.

And speaking of savings, the CCU discussed in length how to move forward with GPA's Integrated Resource Plan and its recommendation to pursue liquid natural gas as an alternative to oil. Perez said, "On the horizon there's some strict USEPA guidelines in regards to emissions that's going to require GPA have to comply with and the alternative to that is LNG and it's lot more cost effective for rate payers and investment we make we can reap savings over a long period of time and pass those savings onto ratepayers."

The CCU expects it would take about five to seven years to accommodate LNG, with an entirely new power plant. And while these two initiatives and projects seem to be moving forward, further discussions on GPA's Smart Meter project; specifically its opt-out policy, were postponed. GPA management instead was directed to gather more information on how other utility companies in the U.S. mainland are conducting their smart meter project and report back to the CCU after 90 days.

"Yes, there are concerns but if you weigh those concerns on what your utility costs will be if we remain status quo to me personally and a lot of people who have received the meters, that's not acceptable and we need to move forward with that," he said.

The next village outreach meeting on smart meters will be held on November 19 at the Yigo Senior Citizens Center. The PUC meanwhile will meet the following day on November 20. PUC legal counsel Fred Horecky tells KUAM News that GPA will still have to file a petition with the PUC on specifics of the rollback and most likely won't be discussed until its December 11 meeting.

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