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United Retailers Association calls electric rate hike an abuse

By on January 20, 2021

CUD President Jesús Vázquez (Courtesy)

CUD president blasts regulator for surprise 3-month increase

SAN JUAN — The president of the United Retailers Association (CUD), Jesús E. Vázquez Rivera, characterized as “unfair and abusive” the announcement by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) of an increase in the cost of electric power service for customers, even after, during his gubernatorial campaign, the now Gov. Pedro Pierluisi assured he would not support any increases.

“At a time when the Puerto Rican economy is hurting the most, the [Puerto Rico] Electric Power Authority [Prepa] is preparing for an additional kilowatt-hour increase of $6.52,” the association’s president denounced. “This is an abuse, all Puerto Ricans here are adjusting and living difficult times, and this agency, which is disorganized and an administrative disaster, intends to increase its cost.”

The PREB resolution is dated Dec. 31, 2020; however, it was not disclosed until Tuesday. It establishes an increase of $6.52 compared to the October-December quarter for a residential customer without Prepa subsidies and with an average consumption of 800 kilowatt-hours per month.

The regulator justified the increase with the reconciliation of the adjustment clauses for the purchase of fuel and energy for the period from September to November 2020. According to the bureau, it underestimated the expenses it was going to incur between September and November, which are now passed on to customers for the January to March period, the CUD release says.

Vázquez Rivera suggested that Prepa should first restructure itself and make a plan to reduce expenses before considering implementing increases of this type.

“We see how the government and its various agencies owe over $200 million and nothing happens. Now if we stop paying the electricity bill one month, the service is cut off the next month. The increase is said to be due to the rise in the cost of fuel, but it is always the same excuse, and now it is less credible when the Energy Bureau says that there are incongruities in the purchase of fuel compared to the cost of the market,” Vázquez said.

He assured that the increase is untimely since “people cannot bear one more expense, apart from the fact that the service is poor,” and added that the customers “are paying a super expensive utility with terrible service,” he concluded.

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