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Gov appoints Utility Task Force to explore ways of reducing your ASPA bill

ASPA Operatons Building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In an Aug. 13 memo, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga appointed an eleven-member ASG Utility Task Force to recommend ways of reducing the cost of electricity being paid by all sectors of the community, where many families and the private sector, have voiced concerns over the high cost of electric and water service provided by the American Samoa Power Authority.

“Given the pervasive effect of electricity, water, solid waste and wastewater cost on the financial wherewithal of all families, businesses and the American Samoa Government, it behooves us to continually investigate and explore options that would reduce the cost paid for these utility services,” said Lolo in the memo sent to all CEOs and directors of ASG entities.

“While we are aggressively pursuing renewable energy-based initiatives to capitalize on inherent cost savings, it is important and imperative that we continue to assess the cost efficacy of our current systems to produce electricity and water along with the delivery of wastewater and solid waste services to further reduce the cost of utilities being paid by our people, businesses and government,” he explained.

The governor noted what ASPA has made known in the past that its revenue generated through the sale of electricity and water is being used to subsidize its other divisions — solid waste and wastewater.

While there have been questions “on the appropriateness of this practice,” Lolo said, the fact remains that ASPA has no other recourse unless financial subsidies are provided through the budget process to cover this shortfall.

Therefore, the governor has established the Utility Task Force, which Lolo says is “charged with the responsibility to recommend options that would accomplish our goal of reducing the costs of basic utilities being paid [by] families, businesses and government.”

Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga heads the task force, and members are: ASPA officials Lavata’i Reno Vivao, Wallon Young, William Spitzenburg and Danielle King; Public Works director Faleosina Voigt, ASG Budget Office director Catherine D. Saelua; ASG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a; Chief Procurement Officer Dr. Oreta Critchon; and two senior staffers from the Governor’s Office, Paul Young — former ASPA managing director and Iulogologo Joseph Pereira - the governor’s executive assistant.

“The task force is given 90 days at the end of which a report containing recommendations of potential options to adopt that would accomplish our goal of reducing utility costs,” said Lolo in the memo, which was also sent to the ASPA executive officer, Utu Abe Malae, who is currently on medical leave, and the ASPA board of directors.

The governor’s memo comes at a time when water, solid waste and wastewater fee increases for ASPA are reflected in this month’s bill. See Samoa News edition July 31 for details of the fee hikes.