The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) has a FY2020 total budget of $129,844,214, which represents a 6.3% increase over 2019’s approved budget. As the pie chart at the right indicates, the bulk of expenditures continue to lie with the Power Division that includes Power Generation and Power Transmission & Distribution. Two thirds of Power Division’s budget reflect fuel costs totaling $58.6 million out of $90.4 million of planed spending. Fuel expenditures to date with the impact of COVID-19 on tourism are only $37.9 million as of the end of September 2020. Power Generation is spending considerable amount of budget ($10 million) on the rehabilitation, repair and maintenance of its 40 plus year old engines. Plans to proceed with a new power plant proposal are developing as well.
The Water Division is also spending approximately $9 million out of it $20 million budget on Capital Improvements to its Water and Wastewater infrastructure assets. Incorporated into the Water budget are the Water and Wastewater Engineering Division and the Laboratory Section. Engineering oversees all capital project activities of the named divisions, Stipulated Order 1 Federal Court requirements, and the implementation of a water audit that is intended to help determine the cause and correct the problems allowing for non-revenue water loss presently at 63% of production. Water Lab performs daily, weekly, and monthly tests of water to assure wells are clear of E. coli, turbidity and other potentially harmful substances. Despite the low capital expenditures for FY2020, those funds will be used for on-going prioritized grant funded projects within a seven-year expenditure authorization.
The Wastewater Division is the smallest area of expenditure at this time; however, capital spending spending in FY2021 will grow dramatically to bring the two wastewater treatment plants, Sadog Tasi and Agingan, back up to their original design parameters so that CUC will be prepared for the projected growth in resort and tourism activity anticipated over the next five years. In addition to treatment, Wastewater handles all collection system repairs and pipeline replacement programs supported and funded by EPA. At the present time, CUC is looking to extend sewers into previously unsewered areas of Saipan to eliminate septic systems that may need replacement, renewal or rehabilitation. Coming off a year where CUC’s revenues were depleted and yet the team managed to avoid severe austerity measures through an organized effort to communicate the need to all levels of the organization, switching overtime for flex-time where possible, and increasing planning efforts to incorporate deliberate and measured work order requests that both contained and prioritized spending in all divisions. CUC must operate as a private business, and as such, must expect payment from customers just as any other private sector entity does because it is self-funded and does not accept appropriations from the local legislature.