PREPA chief denies regulator’s assertions, says FEMA owes $180 million
By John McPhaul
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Executive Director Josué Colón said Tuesday in public hearings in the Senate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) owes the utility a total of $180 million which the public corporation has not been able to pass on to consumers as savings, and characterized the assertions of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau as false.
“A little while ago it was mentioned that the Electric Power Authority had $44 million and that it had not been returned and I don’t know what else; none of that is true. None of that is true!,” Colón said. “In other words, the Electric Power Authority does not keep a penny that it has to return to customers. And those statements, in addition to misleading the senators, also mislead the citizens who heard them.”
“In fact, the Authority has not received the vast majority of the costs incurred by the burning of diesel due to the earthquakes and the departure of Units 5 and 6 of Costa Sur, which amounts to $140 million, and those $40 million that were mentioned this morning would be added to that number, which would be $180 million that the Authority has not received, but part of that money has already been deferred without us having collected it,” the PREPA chief added. “And what it does is affect the company’s cash flow and put us in a precarious situation by granting money that we don’t have.”
In the morning, Puerto Rico Energy Bureau Chairman Edison Avilés argued that PREPA has to return to consumers some $44 million that were reimbursed by FEMA (see story on this page).
Senate Bill 931, which is the reason for the public hearings, intends to allocate to PREPA some $220.5 million from the surplus of the State Insurance Fund Corp. (SIF), which represents the only bill that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia assigned to the call for the extraordinary session.
In July, a price increase in the energy fee took effect, causing the rate per kilowatt-hour to rise to 34 cents.
The joint public hearing of the Committee on Strategic Projects and Energy chaired by Sen. Javier Aponte Dalmau and the Government Committee chaired by Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves is evaluating Senate Bill 931, which seeks to create the Law to Mitigate the Increase in the Price of Energy in Puerto Rico.