Jose F. Ortiz, executive director of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). (Ramón “Tonito” Zayas)

The executive director of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), Jose F. Ortiz, admitted yesterday that the events that resulted in Ricardo Rosselló Nevares’ resignation have complicated making decisions the government. However, he assured that they have not undermined the spirit of the companies in the race to operate the electricity transmission and distribution network under a Public-Private Partnership system (P3).

According to Ortiz, following corruption cases revealed and the Telegram chat scandal, PREPA and the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) have contacted three of the companies competing to operate the power grid and they expressed that they are still interested in participating in the P3 process.

According to Ortiz, Exelon, one of the four companies selected, would have abandoned the race. Meanwhile, Duke Energy, Quanta and PSEG continue in the process.

Yesterday, P3A executive director, Omar Marrero, told El Nuevo Día that, although there were conversations suggesting that Exelon would have given up the process, to date, the company has not issued any formal statement to the agency leading the privatization process.

Companies finalists in the P3 process who are interested in operating PREPA's transmission and distribution network must submit their proposals in September.

Ortiz made his statements at a press conference in which he indicated that as of next month, PREPA customers will see a reduction in their electricity bill as a result of the new billing method set by the Energy Bureau and the reimbursement of money that the public corporation overcharged after Hurricane María.

According to Ortiz, from August to September, the cost will be 19.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh), which would mean a decrease of approximately 10 percent compared to April bills when the cost per kWh was estimated at 22 cents.

Compared to June, however, the adjustment in the bill will be statistically insignificant. That's because then PREPA customers paid about 20 c/kWh.

Ortiz said PREPA continues to focus on achieving a swift conversion to natural gas in San Juan´s units 5 and 6, which would help reduce generation costs.

For the engineer, in response to the decision of the Energy Bureau, PREPA will not be able to adjust charges on the bill monthly, instead, they will have to evaluate them every three months and make the adjustments they deem necessary, which would allow PREPA customers to have better budget management.

Last month, the Energy Bureau concluded that PREPA overcharged customers by  $15.29 million because instead of the provisional rate approved was 1.29 c/kWh, when it should have been .99 c/kWh.


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