VIDEO: Power Bills May Rise in February, More Than Oil Driving Rates Up

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Guam – Your power bill may be going up by February 1st, but it’s not just because of oil prices this time. A number of other factors are playing a role in this next possible increase and ratepayers say they will feel the pain.

The Consolidated Commission on Utilities at last night’s board meeting voted to increase the LEAC (levelized energy adjustment clause0 portion of power bills by about 7 percent.

CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez says this translates to about $20 to $25 for the average customer who consumes 1,000 kilowatts of power a month. The LEAC adjusts twice a year based on world oil prices, but this time, it’s not just oil prices driving power rates up.

“The other unfortunate news is our most efficient generator, Cabras 3, suffered a major failure in November. We lost a shaft and this shaft isn’t just something off the shelf you just run over to Home Depot and buy. It’s gonna take 8 to 10 months to manufacture. It’s gonna cost $1.8 million,” Sanchez explains.

Power customers will now have to shoulder the cost of replacing that shaft. While Cabras 3 is down, GPA will have to utilize its other, less efficient generators, which Sanchez says, will cost more to run.

“Well to keep the lights on we’re gonna have to bring those less efficient plants like the Tanguisson plant that we hardly use at all, it’s now gonna do a lot of work for the next 8 months, but it’s more expensive to run than the cabras unit it’s covering for. So that also was what drove the LEAC price,” adds Sanchez.

And yet another factor is GPA’s new fuel supplier, Vitol Asia. The new contract will be more expensive than GPA’s current contract with Petrobas Singapore, which is set to expire on February 28.

There may very well be a valid explanation for the rate increases, but power customers say they aren’t happy about the news.

“Oh man, inflation all the itme, I really don’t like it,” says one customer. Asked what his plans are if power rates go up next month, he says, “Well we do try to pay our bills.”

Another GPA customer says, “What I’d like to say to the [CCU] is look out for the customers because they’re feeling the rates and we can’t keep up with this with all utilities.”

So we asked, “How much is your power bill right now?”

“It went down $50, so it’s $300 and with the water and other utilities, there’s no way to survive here on Guam if we keep going like this,” he syas.

The Public Utilities Commission is still reviewing the CCU’s recommendation and will decide whether to approve the rate increase at their next meeting at the end of this month.