8 May 2007

Businesses and residents in CNMI hit hard by power rate hikes

6:53 pm on 8 May 2007

Businesses and residents in the Northern Marianas are being hit hard by the latest power rate hikes.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation set its highest electricity fuel rates last week, attributing the rise to increased fuel prices, decreased fuel efficiency and unrecovered fuel costs frmo previous rates.

The CNMI government is unable to pay its power bill but is unlikely to have its power cut because of a temporary restraining order imposed by the court in 2004.

The chairman of the Economic Development Committee in Saipan's Chamber of Commerce, David Sablan, says the price increase is crippling for many consumers whose rates have tripled in just two years.

"We're also facing a turn down in the economic situation. We are facing a possible increase in the minimum wage for our workers, being that we're part of the United States. So all these various adjustments have to be faced with in the span of say this year and next. We're experiencing some economic downturn here."