Guam – Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo has issued a decision voiding Public Utility Commission’s order requiring the Guam Waterworks Authority to pay back $18-million dollars to GovGuam.
Judge Bordallo ruled that the Public Law which required the payment “is constitutional” but he decided that the PUC had exceeded its authority when it ordered GWA to pay GovGuam “because nowhere in the statutes is there any indication of anything that would give the PUC broad authority to issue such an order.”
The PUC issued the order in accordance with an amendment sponsored by Senator Ben Pangelinan which was attached to what became Public Law 30-145. GWA then took the PUC to court in an effort to get the order overturned.
GWA has argued that the PUC’s order is illegal because it would force GWA to make an $18 million dollar payment, unrelated to the purpose of the bond issue which was to build infrastructure. In addition GWA argued that the law would force an 18% rate increase on the island’s water customers to pay for the $18 million dollar pay back to GovGuam.
In reaction to the decision today, CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez said that he was pleased, but he pointed out that Judge Bordallo up-held the constitutionality of the law.
Sanchez said that Judge Bordallo only found that the PUC had erred in the way they issued the order. The PUC can still require the payment, he warned, at a later date, if they follow the correct procedure, said Sanchez.
“The best resolution,” said Sanchez, “is to appeal to the Senators to re-visit this law.” GWA ratepayers should not be required to “pay GovGuam back for infrastructure that was installed 30 years ago and has already been paid for,” he said.