CCU commissioner: OPA report was unfair to utilities

CCU Commissioner Simon Sanchez (PNC file photo)

Consolidated Commission on Utilities commissioner Simon Sanchez has responded to the Office of the Public Auditor’s recent report, which criticized the double pay adopted by the island’s two utilities during the COVID pandemic emergency.

During the last CCU board meeting, Sanchez said he is very concerned about the perception the OPA created in suggesting that the Guam Power Authority and Guam Waterworks Authority were not following the law with regard to COVID pay.

“It’s my recollection that there was an outreach on this matter to the Attorney General who never responded. And now, the OPA is asking the AG for an opinion, and he may or may not respond,” Sanchez said.

He added that both GPA and GWA were just following the law which was not changed by the executive orders of the governor pertaining to GovGuam salaries during the pandemic emergency.

“I felt the OPA criticism is a bit unfair to GPA and GWA management. If you remember, at the time, they were cranking out payroll every two weeks while this is happening. And two weeks after March 16, it was still very unclear what the hell was going on. And we were going typhoon mode, which is double pay mode. And they had to crank out a payroll. So they had to make a call,” Sanchez said.

Both GPA general manager John Benavente and GWA general manager Miguel Bordallo have been tasked with writing up full, comprehensive reports on the matter.

“This is important because these two had to make a management decision based on law. And I don’t want to have a perception that they, in any way, broke the law,” Sanchez said.