12 Jul 2006

Northern Marianas facing huge hike in power prices alongside power cuts

3:16 pm on 12 July 2006

The Northern Marianas' government owned power company says it has been forced to steeply increase its electricity rates.

This comes as the Commonwealth Utility Corporation, the CUC, has also begun periodically cutting power to 15,000 customers on Saipan and Rota, in a bid to conserve fuel.

The administration says it can no longer afford to continue to help the CUC pay for monthly fuel deliveries or pay for its old generators to be replaced.

The utility's Pamela Matthews says with the cost of fuel skyrocketing it has no choice but to pass on costs to the consumer.

She explains no date has been given as to when the new rates will begin to apply as there are administrative changes that need to occur first.

"That is the magic question. Because it is a large rate increase, 117 % increase for residents and 55 % increase for commercial customers, so we're taking the approach to have a lot of meetings to make sure people know what's happening and they can prepare right now."

Pamela Matthews says the CUC last adjusted its rates in the 1980s.