Backbilling may be scrapped altogether

Senator Clynt Ridgell introduced Bill No. 188-35 which seeks to prevent both the Guam Power Authority (GPA) and Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA) from back-billing its customers. (PNC photo)

Senator Clynt Ridgell is considering not just amending the current law that allows for backbilling but to scrap the entire law altogether.

Ridgell, during an interview with the Andrea Pellacani show on K-57, said that as of now, there is no disincentive to backbill because current law allows the utilities to backbill for three months.

This gives utilities no incentive to fix their defective smart meters more quickly.

The senator reminded both the Guam Power Authority and the Guam Waterworks Authority during his oversight hearing last month that smart meters were adopted precisely to have more accurate billings of utility services.

If backbilling is disallowed altogether, Ridgell said the utilities would have more urgency to fix their defective smart meters. Otherwise, they will lose money and revenue.

Ridgell described the island’s utilities as the only industry where they can get away with backbilling and the backbilling is just estimated, not detailed.

The senator told the Andrea Pellacani show that his backbilling legislation will be released soon and that he is now just doing the finishing touches on the yet unnumbered bill which would overhaul the existing backbilling law.

During the recent oversight hearing on the Guam Power Authority, Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Joey Duenas admitted that current law gives GPA the authority to back-bill customers for colder months using average power consumption during hotter months, which usually entail higher bills and more power consumption.

Ridgell said this has to change and customers must be billed more accurately. He added that GPA needs to ensure that customers are not being forced to bear the financial burden caused by mistakes made by GPA itself.