CNMI Governor Declares State Of Emergency For Commonwealth Utilities Corporation

Without board, CUC cannot conduct proper procurement process for new engine

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 23, 2017) – Governor Ralph D.L.G. Torres has declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. due to the resignation of its board members.

According to his amended Executive Order 20-17-05 on Monday, without a functioning board, CUC cannot conduct a proper procurement in accordance with the Commonwealth Code and CUC’s administrative regulations to purchase a replacement generator for an old engine and alternator at Power Plant 1 in Lower Base.

“CUC’s inability to immediately purchase a replacement generator for Engine No.8 poses an imminent threat to its day-to-day operations and its capability to provide critical power generation, water and wastewater services to the CNMI,” the governor’s executive order stated.

“This imminent threat of loss and damage to life and property could lead to disruptions to critical infrastructure and key resources. These events directly threaten the CNMI in various ways, which include but are not limited to, its overall economy, health services, import export industries, public school system, the environment and the government’s ability to properly protect its citizens.”

The gubernatorial appointees to the CUC board resigned effective on May 12 as requested by Torres.

“At this moment, the only way for CUC to be the recipient of an emergency replacement generator for Engine No. 8 is by immediately effectuating a statutorily effective procurement in accordance with CNMI law to replace Engine No. 8 and enable CUC to operate at a substantially higher capacity. This can only be achieved through a declaration of a state significant emergency,” the governor said in his executive order.

He said the executive director “shall continue to carry out the general operations and management of CUC, under the supervision of the governor, in a business-like manner until a new board of directors is fully constituted.”

Section 4531 of Title 3 of the Commonwealth Code is likewise suspended to allow CUC to retain all staff which may include employees other than citizens and permanent residents, the governor said.

Moreover, the attorney general is delegated legal authority to effectuate the procurement of the replacement generator for Engine No. 8.

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