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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Examining officer recommends water base rate hike of 4.95%

Marta Rivera Plaza, chief operating officer of the San Juan Capestrano System

By John McPhaul

After public hearings, as well as a period for subscribers to issue written comments in relation to the new proposed rate structure for water and sewage services, Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Executive Director Doriel Pagán Crespo announced on Monday that the examining officer designated to conduct the evaluation issued his report and recommends a rate increase of 4.95%.

Pagán Crespo specified in a written statement that “in his brief, the designated examining officer, engineer Ferdinand Quiñones Márquez, who also presided over the public hearings, recommends adopting a new rate structure as proposed by the PRASA, but with a change in the adjustment proposed. Specifically, he recommended an adjustment of up to 5% in the base charge, instead of the 2% proposed by PRASA, thus addressing recent inflation and electricity costs.”

The PRASA chief noted that with the evaluation and recommendation of the examining officer, the public corporation is inclined to set the increase in the base charge at 4.95%, which would go into force on July 1. The charges for consumption remain with an adjustment of 2%. Pagán Crespo urged all residents to participate and submit comments on the examining officer’s recommendations included in her report. The examining official’s report will be published on the PRASA website, as well as on the examining official’s page, rates2022yyy. The public will have until May 26 to submit their comments to the email or by regular mail to PO Box 360181, San Juan, PR 00936-0181.

“The objective of modifying the rate structure is to simplify the monthly bill, which will allow a better understanding and control of the charges, bringing it to the standards of the water industry, while the corporation guarantees compliance with its commitments and regulations, as well as the continuity of an essential and first-rate service for all of Puerto Rico,” Pagán Crespo said.

As part of the evaluation of the new structure, a consultation was carried out with subscribers in a transparent and participatory process, for which six public hearings were held throughout the five regions at the island level, from March 15 to 17, in San Juan, Guayama, Ceiba, Hormigueros and Arecibo. The public hearing process was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Law for the Review and Modification of Rates of May 31, 1985 (Law 21), as amended, and with the purpose of providing a broad and open forum to all island residents.

Among the most important changes contemplated by PRASA’s new rate structure is the incorporation of the charge for environmental and regulatory compliance (CCAR by its Spanish acronym), and the special charge to the base charge and charges for consumption. As a result, the invoice is simplified and the rate structure is brought up to industry standards, including only two concepts, a base charge and consumption charges.

Likewise, it has been proposed to eliminate the current electronic invoice discount, instead granting an incentive of $10 to the client who registers for this payment method for the first time on or before Dec. 31, 2022 and maintains an adjustment coefficient with a minimum of 2% per year, to ensure compliance with the requirement of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for moderate annual adjustments, as well PRASA’s compliance with its obligations.

As an example, a residential customer with water and sewer service consuming 10 cubic meters or less per month would pay $28.15, or $1.33 more than the current cost for that level of consumption. Similarly, a residential customer with water and sewer service consuming 13 cubic meters per month would pay $44.17, or $2.80 less than the current cost for that level of consumption. Meanwhile, a commercial customer with consumption of 10 cubic meters or less would see an increase of $2.64 in their monthly bill, paying $55.99 per month.

“As can be seen, the adjustments are minimal and in certain cases result in reductions in the monthly cost for certain clients,” Pagán Crespo said. “Under the new proposal we will have a simpler rate structure.”

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