Sunday, November 17, 2019

Puerto Rico Governor: Look for new way to fund Energy-Efficiency campaign

By on October 24, 2019

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced asked the local Energy Bureau (PREB) on Wednesday to look for other alternatives to avoid raising the rates for consumers’ electric energy in order to pay for an energy-efficiency campaign.

“I strongly reject the fact that the implementation of the energy efficiency [campaign]provided through Acts 57 of 2014 and 17 of 2019 represent a rate increase for subscribers to the Electric Power Authority [Prepa],” said Vázquez Garced in written statements. 

“That may not be the first option. Independent sources of income should be sought, such as collaborative agreements or the possibility of accessing federal funds, so the responsibility for energy efficiency is not at the expense of the people of Puerto Rico,”she added.

Acknowledging PREB’s independence, Vázquez Garced called for the exploration ofother alternatives.

“I urged [PREB], within its autonomy, to review the resolution and explore other alternatives for the implementation of these programs, other than an increase in electric service [charges]. I will be waiting for this situation to be resolved, bearing in mind the interests of our people. That is my commitment,” she concluded.

The Prepa executive director, José Ortiz, revealed that PREB decided the subscribers will fund the energy-efficiency campaign through an increase on their electricity bills.

“The Energy Bureau is complying with Law 17 [of 2019] which asks them [PREB] to develop an energy-efficiency guidance program. They used [Prepa] and gave us [Prepa] an order to include in the tariff 0.01 cents, which is equivalent to less than $2 per resident per month until June 2020. That charge raises some $13 million, which is to [be used to] guide citizens about how they can lower their electricity consumption,” Ortiz said to questions from the media.

“We [Prepa] are a conduit for them to charge that money. That money does not come to the Electric Power Authority. What that law intends is that if in Puerto Rico we [want to become] more efficient consuming energy, we must build less infrastructure,” he added.

Ortiz insisted Prepa has nothing to do with PREB’s determination nor can [the utility]oppose it.

Last Friday, the president of PREB, Edison Avilés Deliz, pointed out that the energy policy established in Acts 57-2014 and 17-2019 set the goal of achieving 30 percent energy efficiency by 2040.

“To the extent we are implementing the energy-efficiency programs, we must be able to reduce energy consumption, lower the expense on subscribers’ bill for electricity service and reduce the cost to produce energy by [cutting] fossil-fuel purchases, [and] the emission of greenhouse gases will [also] decrease,” Avilés Deliz explained.

He added that to raise the necessary funds so PREB is in a position to develop its programs, starting on Nov. 1, 2019, a line (“rider” or adjustment clause) will appear on the Prepa bill.