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CUC board cancels emergency declaration

THE Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board on Wednesday canceled the emergency declaration that would have allowed CUC to expedite the procurement of a new power generator for Saipan.

“The declaration [of emergency] based on the definition of the Legislature is not needed,” said board member Joe Torres.

He said there’s still a critical need for a power engine, and the cancellation of the emergency declaration will slow down, if not delay, the acquisition process.

“Probably they [the Legislature] think it’s okay so we decided [to cancel it],” he said, adding he was just basing his decision on the advice of lawmakers who have become “power experts.”

But he reiterated that CUC must replace engine 8 at Power Plant 1.

“The fastest way to purchase a replacement engine is to declare an emergency,” he said. “But now we will have to see how we can go on with the procurement, because what they said was there are some conflicts of interest,” he added, referring to the board’s earlier controversial decision to purchase an $11 million power generator from General Pacific Services Marianas Inc. or GPSM.

The company’s officials have close ties with some CUC board members.

CUC board chairwoman Adelina Roberto, in a separate interview on Wednesday, said the board was just doing what the Legislature asked them to do.

“We just cancelled the RFQ [request for quotations,] and the by-product of the RFQ was the emergency, so when you cancel the RFQ you have to cancel the components of the RFQ.”

Roberto notarized the articles of incorporation for GPSM whose vice president is her stepson. Another CUC board member, Albert Taitano, is listed as GPSM’s registered agent.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board led by chairwoman Adelina Roberto holds a meeting with CUC management led by executive director Gary Camacho. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

CUC board member Dave Sablan Jr., who attended the meeting via teleconference, said the emergency declaration was presented to the board by CUC management because there was not enough capacity at that time and many of the power engines were under repair.

“The reason why we are now cancelling the emergency declaration is because some of the units have come back online,” he said. “But we are still in a serious situation with regard to future demand for islandwide power.”

The only board member who was critical of the proposed deal with GPSM, Sablan said CUC should now go through the request-for-proposals process in the procurement of a power generator.

In an interview, CUC legal counsel James Sirok said the board approved the emergency declaration in Oct. 2016.

During the board meeting on Wednesday, CUC executive director Gary Camacho said they have a 19.1 megawatt reserve capacity in power production.

But some power engines, including engines 5, 6, and 7, are undergoing repair, he said, adding that their power generation is still in a critical situation.

“I just want to say clearly that the situation is extremely challenging right now, considering the reserve capacity and the number of development projects under construction.”

Torres said CUC management should disseminate information on a regular basis regarding the power situation on Saipan.

“The Legislature thinks we made some mistakes,” he added. “They should come to the board meetings and see what we do and work together instead of stabbing us in the back.”

Torres said based on reports from the power-generation division, “those engines could go down at any time, and when that happens they will blame the board.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94629-cuc-board-cancels-emergency-declaration

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