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PREPA will need 2 more weeks to complete rate case

PREPA's Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue offers details of upcoming steps for the public corporation.

PREPA’s Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue offers details of upcoming steps for the public corporation.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has asked creditors for a two-week extension through May 13 to file its rate case before the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, which is a key element in the restructuring support agreement reached with creditors.

The document was supposed to be filed by April 29, but on Tuesday, Lisa Donahue, the public corporation’s chief restructuring officer, confirmed the petition for extra time.

“We’re making the rate transparent and easy for consumers to understand what they’re paying for. They’re paying for capital expenditures, for moving the utility forward by using additional rate and additional capital to invest in the future,” Donahue said.

“We need to get through this and work collaboratively and closely with the PREC on the approval of the rate. And when the restructuring rate is filed, we need to work across PREPA to make sure we’re prepared and have comprehensive rate structure ready to launch at right time,” she said.

This is the second document that PREPA will be filing before the PREC since the PREPA Revitalization Act was approved earlier this year, after presenting its Integrated Resource Plan on April 6. The IRP provides for significant investment in new infrastructure to improve reliability, reduce PREPA’s reliance on expensive fuel oil and ensure compliance with environmental requirements, among other factors.

“This is a very long-term look at what PREPA can look like five, 10, 15, 20 years out. It involves $2.5 billion in investments into enterprise upgrading, bringing natural gas to the island, making sure we’re compliant with environmental regulations and ultimately, providing lower rates to customers and more efficient and reliable power,” said Donahue during a meeting of PREPA’s board that was open to the public and held in Cayey.

The power company has already participated in public hearings held at the PREC, with the goal of moving the process along so that it is completed by mid-June. At that time, PREPA will be able to launch a Request for Proposal process to explore ways of getting capital into the operation.

“We want to figure out what’s the best way to approach upgrading the system,” she said, naming among the possibilities establishing public-private partnerships, and integrating services from other power producers already supplying to PREPA, such as AES and EcoEléctrica.

PREPA’s IRP must be reviewed at least every three years.

During the meeting, Donahue said PREPA management has been working with AlixPartners — the firm she represents — on several initiatives that will provide cost savings, operational efficiencies, improved customer service and a safe workplace for employees.

Since September 2014, the company has generated $180 million in savings and one-time savings of another $155 million, Donahue said.

“We’ve done a lot. There has been an enormous amount of efforts that we’ve worked on as far as improving and transforming PREPA over the past 18 months,” she said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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