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Gov signs law to establish Puerto Rico Public Service Regulatory Board reorganization

By on August 13, 2018

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Monday that he has signed House Bill 1408 into law. The measure creates the Public Service Regulatory Board’s reorganization plan, which will represent projected savings of $12 million in its first year and about $70 million in the next five years, according to his office, La Fortaleza.

The reorganization entails the consolidation of the Public Service Commission; the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, which will now be known as the Energy Bureau; and the Telecommunications Regulatory Board as bureaus under the Public Service Regulatory Board umbrella.

Also consolidated under the new board are the Energy Administration–the administrative-support arm of the new Energy Bureau, which La Fortaleza said “continues with its powers under the law intact”– and the Independent Consumer Protection Office (OIPC), which “maintains its total independence in order to exercise its oversight” of the Energy Bureau, the governor’s office added.

As part of the new administrative structure, the Public Service Regulatory Board will have three members who will serve as the “administrative arm of consolidation.”

“The Public Service Bureau will have three members, when before it had seven; the Energy Bureau will have five commissioners, when before it had three; and the Public Service Bureau will have three commissioners, when before there were five,” La Fortaleza emphasized.

The Puerto Rico Energy Commission’s members continue serving their terms in the Energy Bureau, the governor said, while assuring the merger will not affect the energy regulator’s independence.

Discussion of the measure raised concern in Congress, private sector groups, nonprofit think tanks and the island’s fiscal oversight board, among others.

“We did this bill and it was submitted under the fiscal plan. The only request from the board in the legislative discussion and by other sectors was the independence of the Energy Bureau, and those independence components are kept,” the governor said during a press conference.

“The bureau maintains the same powers. This is only an administrative consolidation. There were a series of redundancies that we could saw. The administrative, financial, legal, human resources functions, among others, can be consolidated,” he added.

He also mentioned that, unlike the other bureaus, the recently signed law establishes that Energy Bureau determinations can only be reviewed by the Court of Appeals.

Regarding criticism received by Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, who was one of the creators of the Energy Commission, that the merger would limit, among other things, the management of its own budget, Energy Commission President Edison Avilés said the only difference now is that the regulator’s budget must be carried out in collaboration with the new board.

–Cybernews contributed to this report.

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