Senator plans to amend back-billing law

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)

Guam – Senator Clynt Ridgell is considering amending the current law that allows for back-billing to ensure that customers are back-billed fairly.

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.

The senator also addressed other issues raised during the oversight hearing.

One major item of concern is the recently rescinded pay raises and bonuses given to senior-level management of GPA.

After a series of questions by Ridgell during the oversight hearing, Duenas and GPA General Manager John Benavente reported to the committee that a number of employees in senior-level management positions rank in the 25th percentile of salaries nationally while the majority of other GPA employees only rank at or below the 15th percentile.

Ridgell said this does not send the right message to the rank and file employees of the Guam Power Authority.

In addition, Ridgell also expressed concern about faulty smart meters. During the hearing, Benavente revealed that about 12,000 (roughly 25 percent of all smart meters) have failed and require replacement.

Ridgell said this is not an acceptable failure rate and that customers should not be punished for GPA’s mistake.