Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Increasing Utility Costs Worry Guam Residents
9-percent hike for water bill planned for February

By Armando Cordoba

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 24, 2013) –Residents yesterday expressed concern over the Guam Waterworks Authority's proposal to increase water rates by 9 percent beginning next month.

The proposed hike would translate into a $7.18 increase for residents who use about 7,500 gallons of water a month.

The Public Utilities Commission is expected to review the proposed water rate increase on Jan. 29. It comes at the same time that ratepayers will see an increase in their power bills.

"This is not good at all. I am already having a hard time covering costs for electricity -- now water could go up," Yigo resident Carmela Santiago said.

If the proposal is approved, the 9-percent rate increase will start Feb. 1 and continue for eight months, until the beginning of next fiscal year. It would drop Oct. 1, but still would be 6 percent higher than the current rate.

The water agency originally planned a rate increase of 6.94 percent but officials said it had to be increased to 9 percent because an earlier rate hike wasn't implemented in time, said Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

Sanchez later said the increase may drop because one of the surcharges tacked on to monthly bills may decrease. The legislative surcharge would decrease from 5.6 percent of customers' water rates to 4.4 percent, he said.

A rate increase requested by the water agency last June couldn't be implemented by Oct. 1 of last year, which was the start of the current fiscal year. Officials said the water agency needs to recover the revenue it should have collected during those four months.

Higher rates are needed to pay for island-wide upgrades to the water and sewer system, agency officials said.

The water agency must improve wastewater treatment, repair leaky water tanks, and address problems related to water wells and booster pump stations, among other issues, to address federal concerns.

Roger Reyes, owner of R.F. Laundromat in Yigo, said higher water rates will affect his customers and his business.

"I will have to raise laundry fees for my washers," Reyes said.

Reyes said he now pays about $1,008 a month for the water used at his laundry business. He said the proposed increases in the cost of power and water "are killing the people."

John Jaleco, 29, talked about the cost of utilities as he waited for his clothes to dry inside 1688 Laundry in Dededo.

"I already come to the (laundry facility) so I don't have to pay for the electricity used by my dryer, now water is rising," Jaleco said.

Power utility seeks hike

The Guam Power Authority earlier this month asked the PUC to increase the cost of power effective Feb. 1. If approved, it would increase the power bill of those using about 1,000 kilowatt hours by about $20.

The power agency cited the higher cost of fuel and a broken baseload generator at Cabras Island as the main reasons for the increased rate.

The PUC will consider the power rate increase during its Jan 29 meeting as well.

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