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By David V. Crisostomo

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 26) –The Guam Power Authority has asked the Public Utilities Commission for a 9 percent to 11 percent rate increase, the second major hike in the past four months.

GPA officials filed an emergency petition with the PUC requesting immediate rate relief through the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, which is a petition to the PUC to stabilize fluctuating fuel rates for at least the next six months. The increase is necessary because of the rising cost of fuel worldwide, according to the power agency. The current fuel charge was set in April.

"I wish there was some other solution, but prudence requires this action," said GPA acting General Manager Joaquin C. "Kin" Flores. "To do anything else would compromise our efforts to regain an investment-grade bond rating and would compromise the maintenance of our generation equipment by diverting funds from (operations and maintenance) and capital improvement projects to pay these increased fuel costs."

The power agency is asking the PUC members to address its request at the commission's July 28 meeting.

If PUC members do approve the increase, Aida Dado of Dado's Minimart & Laundromat in Chalan Pago and Mary Jane Tuituu, a mother of two private school students, said they would be disappointed.

"Whenever they increase our water or power it really affects business and it's easy to say you pass it on to the customer but when you do that you risk losing your customers," Dado said, adding that increasing gas and food prices on Guam already have made daily operations tough for small businesses.

Tuituu is a Guam Public School System school aide and her husband works for Guam Waterworks Authority. Tuituu said she and her husband have not received their annual increments in the past several years and already have decreased overall spending to make ends meet.

"I don't know how we'll continue to make ends meet if they keep raising everything; ... gas keeps going up and power keeps going up," said Tuituu, a Malojloj resident.

The power agency last increased power rates by 8 to 10 percent in March this year, according to Pacific Daily News files. Power agency officials had said the March increase was in response to rising fuel costs around the world, files state

According to a statement from the power agency yesterday, GPA officials project a $3.845 million deficit in fuel cost recovery over the projected fuel costs for the current Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause period. The LEAC filing is reviewed every six months. The process allows the power agency to petition the PUC on an emergency basis anytime GPA's projections indicate a shortfall greater than $2 million, according to the power agency.

July 26, 2005

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