9 Jun 2010

Blackout risks in CNMI

3:01 pm on 9 June 2010

The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas could face power blackouts as its utilities corporation cannot afford to buy fuel to operate the islands' generators.

The current fuel supply for Saipan will last only a day or two after the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation managed to buy only 480,000 litres of fuel yesterday.

A state of emergency has been declared, and the utility corporation's executive director, Tony Muna, says this will allow the Governor Benigno Fitial to free up funds to meet the crisis.

Our correspondent, Mark Rabago, says the utility corporation is having to buy fuel in a piecemeal fashion, because the CNMI government, public schools system, and Northern Marianas College have failed to pay around 3.8 million US dollars worth of power bills

"The CUC of the Utility Corporation of the Commonwealth is only able to buy fuel supply for a couple of days and if nothing is fixed long term then we are facing blackouts here."

Mark Rabago says if there are blackouts it could affect the water supply as electricity is needed to power water pumps.