Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bill to finance utility service connection fee sent to Puerto Rico governor

By on July 2, 2018

SAN JUAN – A measure providing that the payment for Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) service connections are prorated and do not have to be paid at the moment of activation has been sent to the governor’s office, La Fortaleza.

The bill, authored by majority New Progressive Party Rep. Joel Franqui Atiles, is expected to be signed by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló shortly and, as explained by the lawmaker in a statement, will provide the benefit of changing public utilities’ requirement of an immediate deposit, or bond, to connect and activate either electric power or potable water service, whether for residential or commercial use.

The so-called bond for service activation when a new Prepa customer has yet to accrue any consumption history can amount to $90 per kilovolt-ampere (kVA), according to the load indicated in the Electrical Installation Certification, multiplied by three. In addition, the utility establishes a minimum connection fee of $300.

Meanwhile, a Prasa connection requires a deposit, or bond, to guarantee payment for the use of its service. Currently, the utility reserves the right to review the deposit amount, the bond or any other guarantee accepted. The basis for determining the amount of the deposit is four times the average monthly billing of “similar” customers.

“The initial cost to request the service should not be an impediment or an onerous burden for citizens to be provided with this service. In particular, to vulnerable citizens who do not have immediate access to the total payment of the bond or deposit,” Franqui Atiles said.

Bill 928 would establish that new customers have a minimum of 12 months to make the activation payment for essential services. The regulations for the provision of essential services that contain a bond payment or deposit “shall allow the prorated payment of the required amount up to a maximum of four (4) months, including the cost of installing the equipment necessary to supply the service.”

If the customer fails to make the payments, service may be suspended and the total amount of the deposit due will be required for the service to be reconnected.

The measure also stipulates that the calculation of the bond payment for service cannot exceed the amount of a bill for three months of service calculated using the monthly billing average.

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