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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker calls on governor to defend new net metering rule from fiscal board

Rep. Víctor Parés Otero

By The Star Staff

Rep. Víctor Parés Otero urged Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Sunday to go to court to defend Act 10-2024, which sets aside power hikes until 2030 for net metering consumers, after objections to the law were raised by the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

“The Board alleges that Act 10-2024 is contrary to the Debt Adjustment Plan (PAD) of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and that it binds the government,” the legislator said in a written statement. “However, net metering has succeeded in Puerto Rico, promoting the switch to solar energy faster than in some jurisdictions nationwide. Changing the rate, which is nothing more than increasing it, as the Board essentially wants, will have a devastating effect on our island and will perpetuate the use of oil as the main source of energy generation, which is unacceptable.”

Last week, the oversight board told the government to refrain from executing Act 10 because it is inconsistent with the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, commonly known as PROMESA, and the certified fiscal plan. The law would prevent the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) from changing the commonwealth’s net metering and energy distribution policy until at least 2031. Act 10 is inconsistent with the fiscal plans’ requirement that the PREB be able to operate independently and “free from any direct or indirect political influence or interference,” the oversight board said.

The board said net metering programs can effectively encourage individual consumers to invest in green energy. Therefore, they require careful study and calibration by an experienced regulator insulated from political influence that compromises the objective evaluation of the policy.

Parés Otero alleged that if Act 10 is not executed, consumers with renewable energy systems, particularly photovoltaics, will suffer a “devastating” impact.

“We are urging the governor to take all necessary measures, as a matter of urgency, to stop the Board from implementing a new charge for people with solar panel systems,” the lawmaker said. “That includes action in court, something that must be thought about quickly and acted upon quickly. If Judge Laura Taylor Swain confirms the debt adjustment plan, it will be much more difficult to avoid the solar charge, as some have called it.”

The oversight board rejected waiting for the PREB to conduct a net metering study in or before 2030, as established by statute.

Act 10 changed the deadline for the PREB to complete the net metering study. Under the new provisions of Article 4 of Law 114-2007, the PREB must begin the study in January 2030.

Pierluisi said over the weekend that he was unsure about defending the law.

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