On behalf of PREPA, LUMA Energy requested an increase of 17.1 percent in the electric bill of its residential customers for the third quarter of 2022.
On behalf of PREPA, LUMA Energy requested an increase of 17.1 percent in the electric bill of its residential customers for the third quarter of 2022. (Xavier J. Araújo Berríos)

LUMA Energy, on behalf of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), requested yesterday to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau an increase of 4.955 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or 17.1 percent in the electric bill of its residential customers for the third quarter of 2022.

Now, the independent regulatory body will evaluate the request and, if approved, the increase would be active from July 1 to September 30. This would be the seventh consecutive quarterly increase in the electricity bill.

For a residential customer consuming 400 kWh per month, the increase would go from $116.14 to $135.96, that is, an additional $19.82 monthly between July and September, according to the proposal that LUMA submitted to the Energy Bureau. The cost per kWh would go up from 29.04 to 33.99 cents.

For commercial and industrial customers, the increase would range, depending on consumption, between $59.46 and an additional $27,289.64 per month.

Mario Hurtado, LUMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer and Vice President, confirmed the figures during a press conference in response to questions from El Nuevo Día and stressed that, by law, the final word on the increase is in the hands of the Energy Bureau. This newspaper had initially obtained the calculations through a source.

(The cost of 33.99 cents per kWh) is quite high for electric energy (compared to other U.S. jurisdictions). In Hawaii, which is another jurisdiction that is also an island, the cost is above 40 cents, approximately 45 cents. In other isolated systems, costs are high, but (33.99 cents) is an extremely high cost compared to systems in the rest of the United States” said Hurtado.

He explained that, quarterly, when reviewing actual costs and estimated expenses for fuel and energy purchases, the consortium’s role is limited to calculating adjustments based on information provided by PREPA. He insisted that LUMA does not generate power, does not control fuel costs, does not benefit from a rise in fuel costs, and does not set rates.

“LUMA has never proposed a rate increase. We have made it clear that this year we are not requesting, nor do we have plans to propose changes in the base rate, which is the component that covers the costs of the transmission and distribution system,” added Hurtado. Melissa Pueyo, LUMA Director of Key Accounts, and Noriette Figueroa, LUMA Director of Voice of Customer, echoed Hurtado’s statement.

“Our 1.5 million customers must know that LUMA does not set fuel prices; they are set by world markets. Fuel prices have risen sharply due to the increase in demand, the reduction in supply, production delays, and the conflict in Ukraine,” he said, citing PREPA figures that point to a 30 percent increase in the cost of fuel last quarter.

Meanwhile, Pueyo and Figueroa indicated that LUMA has assistance programs available for its customers so that they can keep up with their bills. These proposals range from payment plans to special rates or subsidies. They encouraged customers to call 1-844-888-5862 or use the My LUMA application to learn more.

Following the filing of the request for an increase, the Energy Bureau is expected to call a technical hearing, where LUMA and PREPA representatives would explain the reasons for the proposal and provide additional details.

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