Puerto Rico utility union head calls for protest against ‘rate hike’
Says Prepa restructuring agreement could lead to bill rising by up to 50%; urges making noise in front of governor’s office Wednesday
SAN JUAN – The president of Puerto Rico’s Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym ), Ángel Rafael Figueroa Jaramillo, convened a protest in front of the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, for 7 p.m. Wednesday, when members will reject the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) restructuring support agreement, which he said will lead to an up to 50 percent higher electric bill.
“Nobody speaks of the increase to the bill by the agreement with the bondholders; this increase has been kept quiet. This increase is not for 13 months, it is for 40 years, an increase that aggravates our pockets; an increase that we, our children and our grandchildren will pay,” Figueroa said in a statement.
He added that the agreement that will be evaluated in January by federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain will entail a phased increase in the cost of energy that begins in 2020 and last more than 40 years. This agreement could create increase the utility bill by up to 50 percent and includes a tax on solar energy use, the labor leader said.
“This agreement even puts a tax on the sun; this country cannot handle even a single new tax. Therefore, we invite all people today at 7:00 pm in front of Fortaleza to bang those pans so that [Gov.] Wanda [Vázquez] knows that the people do not want the agreement that she would be willing to sign with the bondholders. The agreement with the bondholders is unsustainable for the country,” he reiterated.
Figueroa urged those who cannot reach La Fortaleza to protest from home.