ASPA is billing the billboard companies for their lights, says ASPA
“All billboards are accounted for” in terms of billing says American Samoa Power Authority CEO Utu Abe Malae in response to Samoa News queries.
Samoa News received calls from the public asking if the companies which own the billboards or signs on the main road are being billed by ASPA for the ones that have lights hooked up to them.
Utu replied, confirming that every billboard with lights is accounted for, and explained that some of the signs are hooked up to residential meters nearby and charged that way; while, others are connected directly to utility poles — just as if they were streetlights.
As with streetlights, he said, the wattage of the lamps are used to estimate the charges, and photocells control the on-off times of the signs or billboards. Unlike streetlights, this type of billboard is maintained by the customer, not by ASPA or ASG.
Samoa News notes that a similar question about billboards on permanent structures using lights was asked during a PNRS meeting that Samoa News attended last year. At the time, the owner of the billboard structure said they made arrangements with ASPA specific to connection and billing, when applicable.
The ASPA CEO said there are two customers who are served under this "Billboard Class" but of course there are more than two billboard structures under these two customers. He did explain that the ones at the airport may be back billed once the wattage is confirmed.
ASPA Customer Service Manager, Ryan Tuato’o said that they have two sign customers that are classified under this "Billboard Class", because they do not have an active meter at the sites but are using electricity directly from ASPA.
“Because there is no active meter at the site, we bill them by how many lights they have on each billboard and we calculate the charge for the respective light.”
Tuato’o said ASPA has a formula used to calculate this charge by using the wattage of the lights, and the average hours and days in a billing month these lights would be on.
“This is then multiplied by our KWh rate and that is how we come up with the charge for each light. For a 60 watt light, the charge would be about $7.50; for a 100 watt light, the charge would be about $10.50; for some lights, if the wattage is the same as our streetlight charges, then we just bill them as a streetlight on their accounts.”
He said this is similar to how ASPA sets up their accounts for public streetlights that are not tied to a meter. Because there is no meter, ASPA does not read nor do they bill a monthly $6 customer service charge because they do not have a meter to read or maintain.
“We just bill them (billboard structure owners) monthly for usage of a fixed streetlight charge like we do with the public streetlights.”
He said ASPA has verified that some signs are connected to customer meters and some are connected to the light poles. “The ones connected to the light poles are the ones we are charging the respective companies for.”
The ASPA Customer Service Manager also noted that ASPA is not responsible for replacing, fixing or repairing these lights or billboards if something happens to them.
The two billboard companies are Ae Designz and All Star Signs.
Samoa News asked Tuato’o about the rumor that Ae Designz’s permanent billboard structures use solar energy to power their light bulbs. He said Ae Designz uses LED light bulbs — where the light bulb is brighter but uses less power, and as a result ASPA is charging the company $7 monthly per light bulb because it uses less power.
He said ASPA is looking at using the same type of bulb for all of the territory’s street lights.