Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) is crippled without functioning Board with major projects and operations affected. With only three (3) Board members, the corporation does not have a quorum to approve projects and policies that requires Board approval.
Some of the 18 items pending before the PPUC Board include FY 2021 Budget, approval of Quarterly AFPAC, Approval of Finalized Contract Negotiations for Independent Power Producer, Department Budget Reprogramming, and MOU with ADB on the loan for PPUC that require review and approval of the Board. List of 18 matters awaiting Board approval was provided in a letter to OEK highlighting the urgent need to expedite approval of Board appointees.
“..without a sufficient number of board members, all these matters have been left unresolved for the last three months, therefore, we beseech your office to conduct voting on pending appointments to the PPUC Board of Directors at your earliest to ensure that we, as a corporation, are able to function and perform our duties as prescribed to us,” stated Ngiratmetuchel Reagan Belechel, Interrim Chairman of PPUC Board of Directors to Senator Rukebai Inabo, Chairman of Senate Committee on Public Utilities, Communications and Housing Development (PUCHD)
“The Committee has already completed its work on the three (3) presidential appointments and conducted a hearing with PPUC. We have submitted our reports to the floor. The reports on the appointees were on the calendar but they were deferred at last session. I do believe that PPUC should have a functioning Board as soon as possible. Any other issues can be addressed when appropriate time comes,” expressed Senator Rukebai Inabo when reached for comment.
PPUC has not had a Board quorum since July and President Remengesau Jr. wrote Senate President Hokkons Baules on August 20 and again on August 27th, urging action on the board appointments he submitted.
In both of his letters, President Remengesau cited the pending loan with ADB for $10 million to help PPUC improve its failing infrastructure as well as renewable-energy procurement which is at final stages of negotiation and require Board approval.
In the August 27th letter, Remengesau said, “I am sorry to write so soon, but time is of the essence on the matter of the PPUC Board. PPUC cannot function without a Board, and the Board cannot function without a quorum.”
Senate President Hokkons Baules responded to Island Times inquiry saying that they will address the appointments when they come to the floor of the Senate. He said that they have not been thoroughly briefed on the latest solar bid details nor have they been informed by PPUC about the extent of the home solar projects and what impact those may have on the larger solar energy project. “We will take action when appointments are reported to the floor by the Committee,” he added.
PUCHD Committee reports on the PPUC Board appointees were submitted after August 11 and were deferred at the last Senate session. Senate is expected to hold a session soon to address the FY 2021 Budget bill and it is not known if the PPUC appointments will be on that calendar.