New law bars Puerto Rico utilities from billing in ‘excess’ during emergencies
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has signed Senate Bill 811, enacting the Law for Fair, Reasonable and Transparent Billing of Essential Public Services in Emergency Situations.
The new measure, which Sen. Miguel Romero Lugo authored, will apply to basic services provided by entities such as the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa).
When signing the measure, the governor stressed that “our policy has always been that no customer pays for service they did not receive. That is why, last October, I ordered the suspension of water and electricity billing until Prasa and Prepa could determine with certainty the consumption of their customers during the emergency period.”
Rosselló added that “with this new law, we ensure that, in future emergencies, customers will not have to pay for these services if they do not receive them and their actual consumption can be determined. On the road to the transformation of our energy system, this law allows us to begin to reform the billing system to guarantee a fair, reasonable and transparent system.”
The new measure also provides that billing of fixed or consumption charges during prolonged service interruptions that may occur as a result of emergency situations is not permitted.
If a customer received the utility service for part of the emergency period, any fixed charge will be prorated so that any period in which the service was not offered due to an emergency situation can be discounted.
Under the new law, Prepa and Prasa customers can file a claim for any action contrary to the policy. The utilities and the Energy Commission have 30 days to establish compliance regulations for the law.