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ASPA soliciting for professional consultants to conduct rate study

Executive Director for the American Samoa Power Authority Utu Abe Malae says the rate hike for water, wastewater and solid waste (fourth phase) that was set to go into effect this month has been cancelled and instead, the semi-autonomous agency is conducting a rate study for those three services.


According to Utu, the study is funded as follows: the Environmental Protection Agency will pay for the water and wastewater portion while ASPA will foot the bill for the solid waste part of the study.


Utu was responding to Samoa News inquiries about the Request for Proposal (RFP) currently being advertised, seeking “professional consulting firms to conduct a Cost of Service and Rates and Fees Study and provide associated recommendations for user rates in water, waste water, and solid waste services provided by ASPA to its customers.”


When asked if a study like this has ever been done before, Utu responded affirmatively, saying the last one was done in 2010. “It was for Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste services and the increase was to go into effect in four phases: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 (canceled),” he explained, adding the ASPA charter mandates rate studies be performed regularly.


So are the results of the study going to impact the user rates for customers? Utu replied, “They may or they may not, depending on what management and the Board decide to do.” He said they are “concerned the most” with the solid waste rates and fees “because the cost accounting needs to be improved; hence, this rate study.”


Utu said, “A rate study is a good thing and you need a third party to do it. You cannot have the management and Board perform a rate study; otherwise, it may not be defensible.”


He continued, “It is alarming to see that per statutes, some of the services of our government are determined by a director or even the Governor.”


When asked what would happen if the study comes back and reveals ASPA needs to raise its rates (i.e. ASPA is under charging people), Utu answered, “We will cross that bridge when we get there. It is possible that a recommendation would be to raise one class and lower another.”


So is the RFP specifically for local consulting firms or is ASPA also soliciting off-island? Utu said, ”Usually, off-island consultants perform this kind of work for a living… This would be an excellent opportunity for local companies though.”


Since the RFP was published on October 9, Utu said they have not received any proposal yet, just inquiries.