House speaker to governor: ‘Let’s go together’ to compel LUMA to lower energy costs
By The Star Staff
A day after Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia asked Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael Hernández Montañez to pass, during a special legislative session that opens today, a bill that may lower power rates, the speaker on Tuesday urged the governor to join forces with him to demand that LUMA Energy reduce the cost of energy.
Hernández Montañez said LUMA Energy has $950 million in its coffers -- $750 million that it received from the General Fund and $200 million in savings from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).
“Let’s go together to demand that LUMA lower the cost of electricity,” Hernández Montañez said in a written statement.
Pierluisi said Monday that he had included in the document convening a special session legislation that would help prevent rate increases by transferring some $145 million from the State Insurance Fund to PREPA, which the House speaker rejected. On July 1, a temporary energy rate hike of 17.1% went into effect.
Hernández Montañez reaffirmed in his request to the governor the inclusion in the extraordinary session of Senate Bill 813, which creates the “Fuel Price Purchase and Stabilization Office,” Senate Bill 728, which regulates the purchase of fuel over the long term, and Senate Bill 818, which bans LUMA and PREPA from charging an energy transition fee. He also asked for the inclusion of Senate Bill 525, which provides the procedure for energy customers to request an adjustment on their bill, and of Senate Bill 906, which guarantees the payment of pensions to PREPA retirees.
Hernández Montañez also urged Pierluisi to conduct “an act of good faith” by signing into law two measures, specifically House Bill 774, which transfers the generation, transmission and distribution operations of the electrical system from LUMA to PREPA, and House Bill 1383, which establishes the conditions for achieving a 75 percent cut in the PREPA debt.
“Our call to the Governor is to internalize that a $6.7 billion reduction to the Electric Power Authority debt is a greater and better alternative than sacrificing the protection of workers provided by the State insurance Fund,” Hernández Montañez said. “Our call is [for him] to accept our proposal and amend the call for the Extraordinary Session for these purposes.”
On Monday the governor rejected expanding the list of measures contained in the agenda for the extraordinary session and instead asked the Legislature to approve the bills and appointments contained in the call for the session.