Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Consumers brace for higher bills, price hike

Consumers brace for higher bills, price hike

Monday, 01 February 2010 03:34
by Tiffany Sukola | Variety News Staff

STARTING next month, ratepayers will see their monthly bill increase by nearly 12 percent as Guam Power Authority will raise the fuel recovery charge from 12.96 cents to 15 cents per kilowatt hour.

The Public Utilities Commission last week approved GPA’s petition to increase the fuel recovery charge, also known as levelized energy adjustment clause.

This fee helps pay for the fuel used to run GPA’s generators.

According to the figures given at the meeting, residential customers who use an average 1,500 kilowatt hours per month can expect to pay about $30 more.

Although GPA had requested the fuel recovery charge be increased to 14.21 cents per kilowatt hour, the commission decided to increase that charge to 15 cents per kilowatt hour based on a study done by the power company’s consultants, Georgetown Consulting Group.

The commission also gave the Guam Waterworks Authority the green light to begin implementing a system development charge for first time users hooking up to the company’s water and sewer lines.

GWA officials have said that the fee, effective March 1, is necessary in order to recover costs associated with expanding, repairing and upgrading the current system in order to handle an influx of new users.

Water connection fee

The waterworks company’s proposed price tag for the new development charges start at $3,280 for a 5/8-inch water meter, the typical size for a residential waterline, according to GWA’s website. A 5/8-inch wastewater line would cost approximately $4,780 to connect.

Water and waste waterlines typically used by condominiums and other large commercial buildings could cost upwards of $700,000 to connect.

Since the PUC approved the development charges, the cost of building a brand new, average-size home will increase by nearly $5,000.

During the meeting, commissioners brought up concerns about the fees, saying the steep price might make owning a home nearly impossible for some island residents.

GWA officials said they will work on drafting a policy for a payment plan that would allow all residents, not just low-income residents, to pay the connection fee in installments.

Tariff hike

While utility bills are set to increase, consumers will also have to deal with increases in prices of goods that are shipped to Guam.

The Public Utilities Commission last Friday approved the Port Authority of Guam’s request to implement interim tariff increases to help recover operating costs and fund portions of the modernization plan.

The PUC approved the interim increases for cargo handling, fuel throughput and bunkering fees. They also conditionally approved a new $25 bill of Lading Fee. However, the request to bring the Agana Marina Fees up to the same level as the Agat Marina Fees was denied and the PUC recommended the work that the Port needs to accomplish in order to bring that request before the PUC again for consideration.

“This is a huge boost to our port modernization efforts and will help strengthen the finances of the port considering this will be the first increase in 17 years,” said port general manager Glenn A. Leon Guerrero. “These interim tariff increases are yet another milestone in our efforts to modernize and upgrade our island’s only commercial sea port. We are working aggressively to prepare our port for the future and to create a world-class facility that will service our island and our region for the years to come.”

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