Power rate parity urged for apartment and condo residents

GPA meter (PNC file photo)

Senator Telo Taitague and Senator Clynt Ridgell, the Power and Energy Utilities Committee Chairperson, sent a letter Monday requesting the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to determine whether the Guam Power Authority’s (GPA) proposed condominium rate schedule brings parity to residents in multifamily accommodations.

Moreover, the senators have asked the PUC to require GPA to develop a new rate schedule in the event the PUC finds that the proposed condominium rate schedule fails to treat residents in multifamily accommodations in the same manner as residents in single-family homes.

Senators Taitague and Ridgell authored Bill 37 during the 35th Guam Legislature requiring GPA to establish comparable residential rates for customers residing in multifamily buildings – including a process to bill customers for common areas such as swimming pools, elevators, and lighting in garage parking structures.

Bill 37 was set aside following a public hearing held on the bill in March of 2019 and after its sponsors – together with representatives of the Guam Association of Realtors – formally requested the PUC to create a new rate schedule for residential multifamily accommodations. The PUC conducted public meetings on the request in 2019 and directed GPA to conduct a rate study which was completed in 2020. Public hearings on the proposed condominium rate schedule were delayed until January 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Based on information presented during the first PUC public hearing held on January 13, 2021, it was noted that an existing multifamily unit customer under Rate Schedule P (Large Power Service) with 220 units billed at $33,967.57 in one month, would be charged $30,527.35 under the proposed Rate Schedule D (Condominium) – a difference of $3,440.22.

In a separate sample billing involving a multifamily unit customer under Rate Schedule J (General Service – Demand) with 22 units billed at $8,357.24 in one month, this customer would be charged $8,247.38 under the proposed Rate Schedule D – a difference of $109.85. Unfortunately, residents in apartments and condominiums continue to subsidize other GPA customers.

“Based on GPA’s presentation and response to questions raised at public hearings held recently on GPA Docket 20-10, we believe the condominium rate schedule does little to close the gap between rates charged to residential customers in single-family homes and rates established for the same group of customers residing in multifamily buildings,” wrote Senators Taitague and Ridgell.

“As the Government of Guam entity authorized to establish and modify from time to time, reasonable rates and charges for utilities, it is important for the PUC to recognize that there are many working families who have no choice but to live in apartments or condominiums because the price of land and a single-family home is well beyond their reach.”