GUAM POWER COMPANY MAY TURN OFF STREETLIGHTS

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Government's unpaid bills piling up

By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 8, 2009) - Guam's power agency may disconnect streetlights -- as it did last year -- if the Department of Public Works is unable to resolve its streetlight billing issues.

DPW Director Larry Perez said it's unlikely his agency will be able to come up with the US$1.8 million the power agency is asking for because of the government of Guam's financial condition.

In a letter to Public Works, GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said the power agency is owed more than US$390,000 in interest accrued from past due billings.

In addition, the US$3.2 million appropriated for the streetlight payments this fiscal year would pay for only eight months. About US$1.5 million is needed to pay for the rest of the year, Flores said in his letter.

He asked that Public Works find a way to pay the outstanding interest payment and an anticipated payment shortfall, which total about US$1.8 million.

"It is our desire to avert disconnection of streetlight services and again would like to reiterate that the power authority cannot write off the unpaid accrued interest," Flores said.

Perez said if the power agency decides to disconnect streetlights, he would ask them to shut off every other one rather than entire streets to help keep neighborhoods and streets safe.

Last year, the power agency disconnected about 4,000 streetlights when a US$13.8-million streetlight debt remained unresolved. The government of Guam took out a loan to pay for that decades-old debt.

The streetlight payment issue, which arises almost every year, has forced Public Works to seek a solution that doesn't include asking for more money.

Perez said his agency will issue a request for proposals in a couple of weeks, asking companies to offer alternative lighting sources, including solar-powered fixtures or streetlights than use considerably less electricity.

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