• The Star Staff

Energy Bureau denies PREPA bill hike request

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau denied in part Tuesday a request from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) for adjustments to certain factors in utility bills that would have resulted in rate hikes.

The Bureau ordered PREPA to grant consumers a $6.6 million credit but denied the utility’s request to get back $91 million from customers citing inconsistencies in information on fuel purchases provided by the power utility. During the hearing, it appeared PREPA had paid more than it should have for fuel.

Every three months PREPA has to submit to the Energy Bureau a reconciliation of expenses and income for factors such as fuel rate adjustments.

The Bureau had convened a hearing on Sept. 23 to evaluate the power utility’s Sept. 18 request in which PREPA had asked the energy regulator to authorize a reconciliation in utility bills for the fuel adjustment and for the purchase of energy riders. PREPA Executive Director Efran Paredes said the utility was seeking to get back $91 million for the fuel adjustment factor but give customers a credit of $6.6 million for the fuel purchasing factor. The projected fuel adjustment charge would have come out to .082 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) from October to December and the power purchase factor to .046 cents per kWh.

“Given the marked difference between the fuel costs presented by the Authority in some of its units and the trend in market prices, as well as the statements of the Authority during the hearing regarding the average monthly fuel prices, the Energy Bureau cannot determine, at this time, if the costs for the purchase of fuel for the period of June, July and August 2020, as presented by the Authority, are reasonable,” the Energy Bureau’s resolution and order reads.

The $6.6 million credit to customers represents a reduction of 0.02 cents per kWh.

“The revenues of the Authority for the months of June, July and August 2020 are greater than the amount to be recovered for the purchase of energy for the referred period,” the document says. “Therefore, PREPA has to grant a credit to its customers equal to the difference during the next billing period.”

At the hearing, PREPA officials said the utility had over $470 million in its bank accounts so it could compensate the loss in the event that the Bureau denied its request for the $91 million reimbursement from customers.

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