By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Following the recent signing of a new law that extended Guam's energy credit program through the end of this month, Sen. William A. Parkinson last week introduced a bill proposing to further stretch power relief until next year.
Parkinson said the proposed new extension was prompted by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities' approval of a significant increase to the levelized energy adjustment clause, which would raise power bills by up to $33 in February.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero last month signed a new law appropriating $15.8 million more from the general fund to the Guam Power Authority to cover the fourth extension of the Prugråman Ayuda Para I Taotao-ta Energy Credit, which provides ratepayers with $100 monthly credits on their power bills,
Bill 208-37 seeks to further extend the program until March 2024.
Parkinson said the Public Utilities Commission may also choose to raise rates at a higher amount than approved by the CCU, up to an average of $76 per power bill. Coupled with the expiration of the current $100 energy credit this would be an average of a $133-$176 increase in power bills come the new year without Bill 208.
“Power bills are way too high already, and a $133 to $176 increase to everyone’s power bill is simply unaffordable. Power is a large component in the high cost of living and people are leaving Guam every day because of the cost of living,” Parkinson said.
“We need to do everything in our power to avert such a drastic increase in power bills. Bill 208 would use the money the government has collected in excess of what it expected to collect and give it back straight to the people’s pocketbook where it belongs," he added.
According to Parkinson, the Consolidated Revenue and Expenditure Report published by the Bureau of Budget Management and Research showed that in October alone, the government collected $152.59 million in general fund revenues, while it expected to collect $139.4 million.
That’s an excess of $13.18 million that the government collected that it did not expect to collect. As this trend continues, it will fund the energy credits Bill 208-37 seeks to extend, the senator said.
“Utilizing excess tax revenue for power credits on taxpayers' power bills is a proactive and practical solution. It not only provides immediate financial relief but also promotes a more sustainable and community-oriented approach to managing public funds and resources,” Parkinson said.
He said the energy credit program alleviates the financial burden on households.
“We have power rate increases and pay raises for upper management all while we have load shedding. That’s not people-focused. Somebody has to look out for the best interest of the people of Guam and not just the best interest of GPA," Parkinson added.
Meanwhile, GPA announced that it has applied the first $5.27 million in funding for the October energy credit to all active residential and commercial accounts last week.
GPA said it has received funding from the Department of Administration for the first of three energy credits from the third extension of the Prugråman Ayuda Para I Taotao-ta Energy Credit program under Public Law 37-49.