Fono confirms 4 of 5 members of ASPA board
The Fono has officially confirmed four members of the American Samoa Power Authority board, while one nominee, Va’a Sokelati Fala, was rejected after he failed to get the necessary House votes for approval.
Board members nominated by the governor early this year are Fonoti Perelini Perelini Sr. (board chairman), Peter Crispin, Isabel Hudson, Daniel King and Va’a Sokelati Fala (the only one from the previous ASPA board re-appointed by the Lolo Administration).
Fonoti, Crispin and Va’a were confirmed by the Senate in April, while Hudson and King were off-island at the time.
Late last week, a House committee held confirmation hearings for all five nominees followed by the House vote during their Saturday session in which Hudson was confirmed in a 12-1 vote; Fonoti, Crispin and King were endorsed by a vote of 11-2 each, but Va’a was rejected in a 9-4 vote. Va’a needed at least 11 “yes” votes to pass the House.
Yesterday the Senate, following a committee hearing earlier in the day, confirmed Hudson in a unanimous vote of 13-0 while King was endorsed by a 12-1 vote.
Because Va’a wasn’t approved by the House, he is therefore officially rejected by the Fono and it’s up to the governor to re-appoint him or send the Fono a new nominee to the ASPA board.
Prior to yesterday’s Senate vote, Hudson and King appeared before the Senate Power, Energy and Water Committee for their confirmation hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes, and senators urged both nominees that if they are fully confirmed to please look at bringing down utility rates, especially electric rates that are too high.
Sen. Saole Mila asked the nominees to look at the situation with the water on Aunu’u island. He claims there are many times when the water is too salty and although this same issue was raised during the confirmation hearings of the other three board members, nothing has been done so far.
He said there are human beings living on Aunu’u and should get the same treatment as residents of Tutuila.
Sen. Nua Saoluaga suggested that ASPA look at providing debt meters for residents of Manu’a, adding that many residents have asked him about getting this service which is available on Tutuila.
However, Sen. Faumuina Tagisiaali’i said there are problems with debt meter service and that ASPA needs to check with customers to make sure this service is not overcharging residents. He claims that this has happened before and ASPA still couldn’t fix it despite the problem being reported to the authority.
“I love my people. I want to make sure people pay the right rate,” he added and urged the board to do the right thing when it comes to helping residents with their utility rates.
Sen. Alo Fa’auuga suggested ASPA look at all the street lights because several of them are not working — for example, in one of the areas in Nu’uuli.
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