ILLINOIS FIRM SEEKS TO BUY CNMI POWER PLANTS

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By Gemma Q. Cassas

SAIPAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Marianas Variety, March 29) – A private company is offering to buy all of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s power plants in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for an undisclosed price.

Nidal Zayed, chief executive officer and president of Telesource Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, made the offer to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on March 13.

"Telesource is prepared to undertake immediate due diligence and subsequent negotiations with you with the objective of purchasing all of your Saipan power plant facilities, i.e., power plants one, two, three and four," Zayed said in his letter to the governor. "Our vision is to purchase all of the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation power generation assets on Saipan and commit to deliver to you, reliably and efficiently, all the power the island requires up to 100 megawatts and beyond while investment in the power plant can commence A.S.A.P.," he added.

[PIR editor’s note: Telesource International is an engineering firm based in Lombard, Illinois. It has operations on Saipan and Tinian in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, on Guam, and in Fiji, Palau and Cyprus.]

Telesource is providing electricity on Tinian through a build-operate-transfer scheme.

Under this arrangement, Telesource built a power plant costing more or less US$32 million, which it will turn over to Commonwealth Utilities Corporation by 2020.

The Telesource power plant is powered by government-purchased fuel. Commonwealth Utilities Corporation buys the power the plant produces and then sells it to customers on Tinian.

For its latest business offer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government, Telesource did not specify how it wants to sell the electricity on Saipan should it be allowed to purchase all the island’s power plants.

Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez, a former Commonwealth Utilities Corporation executive director, earlier said that privatization might be the best option to solve the power crisis on island given the poor condition of Commonwealth Utilities Corporation’s engines.

Telesource is part of the SHBC Group of Companies with affiliates and sister companies in the U.S., Fiji, Kuwait, Iraq, Switzerland, South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, Europe and the Middle East.

Zayed said their interest in taking over the power plants "stems from our commitment to the commonwealth and from our strong belief that your new administration is in fact focused on finding solutions, not only for the power crisis, but also for the economic stagnation gripping the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."

He said the Telesource power plant on Tinian is the only one in the Northern Mariana Islands licensed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Telesource’s latest acquisition in the Pacific Region is the Labasa power station in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island.

March 29, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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