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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Regulator: PREPA charged customers $44 million after FEMA reimbursement

Tomás Torres

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) charged customers $44 million in electric bills, an amount that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had reimbursed them in March, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) said Tuesday.

Speaking at a Senate hearing, PREB officials said the bureau learned about the charge in a report delivered by the public corporation on Friday. The money was a fuel reimbursement.

The officials said PREPA must pass that money on to its subscribers, who are currently paying 33.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The remarks were made during a joint hearing of the Senate Strategic Projects & Energy and Government committees.

LUMA Energy is the entity in charge of seeking rate hikes and providing services to PREPA customers as the private operator of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system.

The STAR did not find in PREB’s website the report referred to by the PREB officials at the Senate hearing.

When asked by the STAR, Tomás Torres, the consumer representative on PREPA’s governing board, said the amount was probably a reimbursement given to PREPA over a generation expenditure.

“I am not saying that it was right,” he said. “The important thing is that the PREB spotted it.”

The STAR later was informed that the $44 million was given to PREPA after FEMA informed the utility it was going to increase its fuel contribution to 90% from 75%.

The PREB recently approved the seventh consecutive increase in the electricity bill, which became effective from July 1 to Sept. 30.

The regulator indicated that the factors for the quarterly adjustment were the purchase of fuel, the purchase of energy and the fuel subsidy.

On June 15, LUMA requested a 17.1% increase for its residential customers for the third quarter of 2022.

“For a residential customer with an average consumption of 800 kWh per month, the new price for electricity service will be 33.4 cents per kWh, compared to 28.82 cents per kWh for the previous quarter,” the PREB said in a statement.

The cost per kWh will be reviewed again on or before Oct. 1.

The PREB also approved the annual adjustment factors that will impact the electricity rate starting today until June 30 of next year. These are the Contribution in Lieu of Taxes (CELI-Municipalities), the social interest subsidy and other subsidies.

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