By The Star Staff
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón on Wednesday called on both the Financial Oversight and Management Board and the central government to say out loud what is involved in the change in the additional charge for the payment of the debt that will increase electricity bills on the island, so that a calm analysis of the increase can be made and alternatives can be considered for the benefit of consumers and businesses.
“For example, what alternatives have been considered to mitigate it, including using more natural gas to lower the cost of the price of fuel; how was this increase determined?” said González Colón, who is challenging Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia in this year’s New Progressive Party primaries, in a written statement. “And where are the future plans to reduce the cost of energy and improve the stability and quality of the electrical system?”
The resident commissioner noted that in its fourth Debt Adjustment Plan for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the oversight board proposes a higher debt payment charge than previously announced that would represent a significant increase in the bill for electric power service on the island. She has stated her repudiation of any increase in the electricity bill.
“The people, the small and medium-sized merchants, the industrial sector, are all stunned by so many economic impositions added to the high cost of living,” González Colón said. “We should focus on how to be more competitive, attract investment, and encourage people not to move. This significant increase would cause the opposite: an economic slowdown by making the cost of living and doing business more expensive. In this way, we will not be more attractive for new companies in the manufacturing sector to establish themselves on the island.”
“People need to plan, but they can only do this with real data, speaking clearly, not with a ‘change changes’ in energy costs,” the resident commissioner said.
González Colón called for people to be told what to really expect with the increase, whether or not other increases are coming, how the increase in the additional charge was determined, and where the future plans are to reduce the cost of energy and improve the system.
“I have always supported Puerto Rico being fiscally responsible, and one of those ways is by paying its debts, but the consumer does not have to pay for the mistakes of the past, and even less so when the service does not meet the expectations of what is paid for it,” she said.
“The Board is responsible for planning how to pay the adjusted debt and the component that includes the central government, PREPA, LUMA, Genera and the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau are responsible for proposing strategies to make the system work and lower costs, as well as alternatives for protecting consumers in the process of energy costs they pay,” the resident commissioner said.