Allocation of $76 million authorized for PREPA/pandemic mitigation
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Sunday that the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) authorized the allocation of $76 million to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in Puerto Rico, which includes investment in the purchase of fuel and maintenance of the generating infrastructure.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it, on the one hand, an increase in residential electricity consumption, and on the other a decrease in economic activity. With work, school and university studies occurring remotely, the demand for electrical energy increased dramatically, but on the other hand businesses and industries were forced to reduce their operations. This caused greater pressure to be placed on an old, fragile and delicate generation network,” the governor said. “It is for this reason that I asked the AAFAF to prioritize funds from the ARPA [American Rescue Plan] Law and transfer additional resources to PREPA to address this pressing situation and that at the end of the day hurts subscribers because it is reflected in the fuel purchase factors and energy in the bill.”
Pierluisi also said that with the funds he avoids passing on to consumers the cumulative effect of the pandemic, which was reflected in the previous quarter in the incremental cost of fuel caused by continuous failures at generation plants, as well as by the use of rapid response units that use a more expensive fuel.
He emphasized that in order to avoid the recurrence of what happened in the previous quarter, he instructed PREPA to update the maintenance program for the generation fleet without additional expenses or increases in the basic rate.
For his part, AAFAF Executive Director Omar J. Marrero said ARPA allows the use of funds in four circumstances.
“One of them is that the funds are used in the provision of government services to the extent that the agency has had a reduction in income due to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19,” he said in a written statement. “Under this circumstance, PREPA qualifies to receive the funds.”
“The government is always obliged to guarantee access to a better electric power service to its citizens and even more so in the midst of a health emergency, so this economic allocation made by Gov. Pierluisi today is extremely important to reduce the impact of the rise in consumption on PREPA subscribers,” Marrero added.