Friday, December 14, 2018

Puerto Rico Energy Bureau to investigate institute’s claims

By on October 31, 2018

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau is slated to hold hearings on motions filed by the Economic Competitiveness and Sustainability Institute (ICSE) questioning certain actions of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa).

The bureau gave the utility 20 days to explain why delaying the delivery of the integrated resource plan (IRP), which was due Wednesday, does not limit the effectiveness of the bureau’s ability to perform its duties.

The energy regulator also issued a second order giving Prepa 20 days to submit comment on why a recently announced rate reduction, does not go against the regulator’s proceeding to establish rates.

The orders issued Tuesday came in response to motions filed by the ICSE, which the regulator did not publish on its website.

In a summary of one of the motions contained in the order, however, the ICSE said the proposed rate reduction was outside the scope of the bureau’s regulatory proceeding. Current law stipulates that the Energy Bureau determine the adequacy of proposed rate structures.

Prepa Executive Director José Ortiz Vázquez announced earlier this month a reduction in electricity costs that will be reflected in lower subscriber bills this month; however, the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) wrote to the governor, requiring information to support the ability to lower rates and how these would affect the government’s fiscal plan and budget.

In September, the bureau had ordered the public power corporation to implement a permanent rate approved last year by Dec. 1.

The ICSE’s second motion states that delaying the IRP, which is the blueprint for the island’s long-term energy needs, could hinder the bureau’s effectiveness.

Late in September, Prepa submitted an informative motion to the bureau stating it was not going to be able to comply with the Oct. 31 deadline for the IRP.

In the document, Prepa said the regulator requested in early September the inclusion of “certain scenarios and conditions” in the IRP by Sept. 12. The power company requested an extension that was granted to Sept. 25 following a technical conference.

However, the utility had previously warned the bureau that its “requests or directives” as well as those from the fiscal oversight board could prevent Prepa from submitting the IRP by Oct. 31.

“Prepa previously has explained to the Bureau that Prepa had a number of discussions with FOMB personnel regarding the forecasts used in fiscal planning processes and the forecasts to be used in the IRP,” the document states.

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