DOE HQ left in the dark due to unpaid power bill
The hum of a generator could be heard outside of the Department of Education's headquarters this afternoon - the consequence of a delinquent bill that left the agency's employees in the dark. While it was lights on for thousands of DOE students that made their way back to classes Monday morning, that wasn't the case for the dozens of employees of the agency that went to work at the DOE'S headquarters in Tiyan.
In fact, the Government of Guam's largest agency was left disconnected from power altogether due to a delinquent bill with the Guam Power Authority, whose public information officer, Art Perez, told KUAM News, "As with all delinquent accounts, you're subject to disconnection unless you make arrangements or you make your payment in full with the Guam Power Authority; in this case GPA had to disconnect DOE Central Offices in Tiyan. That was done this morning they were in arrears so what our crews had to do was go downstairs and make arrangements for disconnection."
In a statement to KUAM News this afternoon, DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez stated, "We have been in communication with GPA to seek relief while we await funding." He added, "We expect cash from DOA today to make a GPA payment so that power is restored."
But exactly how long had DOE failed to make payment? and how much were they in arrears? "It's my understanding they were in arrears for about 60 days - 2 months," Perez confirmed. "The total amount on the bill is about $2.6 million and today I can confirm that we're expecting the $1. 7 million to reactivate the account."
Guam Education Board chairman Peter Alexis Ada confirmed the outage occurred shortly after 12pm this afternoon, at which point DOE Central began utilizing generator power. He also confirmed the outage was isolated to DOE's headquarters in Tiyan, and didn't affect any of Guam's 41 public schools.
Perez added, "And today it's been communicated with the authority that we're expecting a $1.6 million payment on the account so we can reconnect them today. Now we're still waiting for that; when that happens, we'll reconnect the account."
Shortly after 3pm this afternoon, Perez confirmed GPA received a $1.7 million payment from DOE. The funding, received from the Department of Administration, effectively brought DOE's past due bills current. Perez confirmed power would be restored to the Tiyan offices before the close of business this afternoon.
However DOE's total bill was $2.6 million, meaning an additional $900,000 is owed to GPA before the end of September. "I would encourage all customers to keep their accounts as current as possible with the authority, because we will disconnect delinquent accounts, but I would encourage them to keep it current with GPA," Perez said.
This afternoon appropriations chair Vice Speaker BJ Cruz wrote to Acting Governor Ray Tenorio, asking Adelup to release the $7 million of DOE funding still held in reserves. He said superintendent Fernandez had asked for the needed payment almost two weeks ago.