Amid power outages, GPA executives set to get pay raises
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
While the Guam Legislature recently approved a taxpayer subsidy to the Guam Power Authority, the Consolidated Commission on Utilities today voted to approve pay raises for the power agency's highest-paid employees.
Sen. William Parkinson urged CCU to reassess its move and consider the message it sends to the taxpayers.
In September, the legislature passed a bill appropriating $15.8 million from the 2023 general fund revenues surplus to GPA for a three-month extension of the Prugråman Ayuda Para i Taotao-ta energy credit program.
"At a time when GPA cannot generate enough power to meet demand and when they need taxpayer subsidy to even make power bills barely affordable, it’s unconscionable to give pay raises to the highest-paid executives at GPA, especially when they have not given frontline workers the same consideration," Parkinson said.
GPA Chief Financial Officer John Kim had his pay raised to $152,157. The CCU had previously tried to raise Kim’s salary from $135,000 to $152,157 behind closed doors in November 2018, which was determined to be illegal and held void by the Attorney General. Kim was forced to pay back the raise in installments.
"Prioritizing executives’ pay raises at GPA are the wrong priorities and systemic of the issues with the CCU," Parkinson said.
The CCU board unanimously approved a salary bump for Kim. The board consists of Commissioners Joey Duenas, Mike Limtiaco, Simon Sanchez, Francis Santos and Pedro Roy Martinez.
“My thought is, that the executive side of our company, the very top of our totem pole, I would argue that we put them higher than basically the rest of the company, we’ve always done that," Duenas said.
Parkinson frowned on the CCU's decision, noting that it was taken "at a time when our constituents endure the inconvenience and economic impact of power instability."
The pay raises have been approved amid the ongoing load shedding and power outages affecting residents and businesses.
Parkinson said CCU's action reflected "a disconnect between the priorities of our utility agencies and the pressing needs of the public they are meant to serve."
"Utility leadership should be acutely attuned to the hardships of the community, particularly during these challenging times," the senator said.
"While I recognize the need to attract and maintain capable leadership within our utilities, it is imperative that executive compensation align with the performance and reliability of services provided. Pay raises must be earned by not only meeting but exceeding the expectations of service, which, by the very occurrence of load shedding, indicates a clear shortfall," he added.