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Mary Ann Lucking PO Box 750 Culebra PR 00775

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
Bill Objection
P.O. Box 9100
San Juan, P.R. 00908
objetarfactura@aeepr.com
21 of September of 2018

RE: Request for Objection: Account number: 4458699293
 

To whom it May concern:
 
Submitted is an objection to the invoice issued on September 12th, 2018, of bill cycle # 11 for
the above referenced account. This objection is based on the Puerto Rico Electric Power
Authority (hereinafter, PREPA) billing for energy generated by the power plants provided by
FEMA, installed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, maintained by FEMA contractors that
continue to service the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico.

This letter requests that this objection be considered in accordance with the provisions of Puerto
Rico Law #3, 2018 and that corresponding adjustments be applied to this account, consistent
with other Culebra residential and commercial accounts, without cause for subsequent
procedures.  This is also a request to stop the billing to island residents, minimally pending
results released from the on-going internal governmental investigation requested by citizens and
the municipality of Culebra from Puerto Rico’s Independent Office of Consumer Protection /La
Oficina Independiente de Protección al Consumidor (OIPC). The on-going investigation, being
conducted by the Puerto Rico Bureau of Energy/ El Negociado de Energía de Puerto Rico
(NEPR), is still in the process of gathering information from impacted consumers. This letter of
opposition to the bill, and attached evidence also serves as my public statement copied to the
NEPR investigation.

The community of Culebra is an isolated, traditionally underserved, low-income, environmental
justice community that like their electrical infrastructure, is still in recovery from not just one, but
two major hurricanes. People in this community should not have to bear the additional burden
of time, seek access to legal advice or be forced to present independent research needed to
address these bills in what is in our case, a year long, disaster recovery billing cycle. PRASA
was not providing energy to an entire island, due to the very predictable transmission breaks of
vulnerable submarine cables relied upon to provide energy to these isolated island
communities. This, also despite the fact that for decades, beach erosion issues at Punta Arena
Vieques, has threatened Culebra’s submarine cable for years and resulted in significant public
expense on multiple poorly planned and failed beach erosion projects.

Culebra was federally declared a disaster area on September 10th, 2017 (FEMA DR_4336) as a
result of September 5th impacts from Hurricane Irma. The island was again federally
designated a disaster area on September 20th, 2017 (DR-4339) following the devastating
impacts of Hurricane Maria that impacted Culebra on September 19th, 2017.
In response to citizen outrage regarding PREPA billing during a federal subsidized recovery, on
January 17, 2018, Puerto Rico representatives ratified Law # 3,  Ley para prohibir a la Autoridad
de Energía Eléctrica (AEE) la facturación y cobro a sus clientes por el consumo de energía
eléctrica reflejado en contadores producto de energía que no sea generada por dicha
Mary Ann Lucking PO Box 750 Culebra PR 00775

corporación pública. It is not clear to us why FEMA chose not to work to implement all electrical
infrastructure recovery measures through PREPA directly.

Information provided by the Oficina Independiente de Protección al Consumidor (OIPC)
indicated the following articles provided by Puerto Rico Law # 3, 2018, and ratified prior to the
end of our last billing cycle protect consumers on Culebra: a) Article 1 explicitly prohibits the
collection of any consumption reflected in the meters or meters of consumption as a
consequence of the generation and consumption of electric power that has not been generated
and distributed by the AEE itself, in emergency situations.  b) Article 2 states that any customer
of the AEE that has been charged in such manner, may file a claim so that the corresponding
adjustment is made to the invoice for credit.  c) Article 3 states that the AEE will use as a
determining factor any outages documented in the sector, urbanization, condominium or
housing complex where the client resides.

The details of the outages experienced by Culebra, are complicated and involve a PREPA
emergency generator used after hurricane Irma, followed by generators provided by the US
Corps of Engineers as ordered and funded by FEMA, line repairs we believe to have been
funded by FEMA, fuel costs covered by FEMA, and transmission on repaired, above the ground
transmission infrastructure. According to official information attached to this letter and obtained
in a certified statement provided by the Municipal Government of Culebra1 and an email
response from the press desk at FEMA2, a PREPA back-up generator provided 12 hour a day
electric from September 22 until it was was replaced by generators provided by FEMA and
installed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, on December 4th, 2017. The municipality’s
certified letter indicates that the US Army Corps of Engineers initially provided the fuel for the
generators, when, and as corroborated by the FEMA documentation, FEMA first allocated this
task to the Army Corps. According to the attached FEMA statement, FEMA continues to provide
2,700 gallons of diesel fuel, at a cost of $8,805.00 per day. FEMA documentation further
indicates that Culebra’s generators are currently maintained by the same company contracted
to provide the fuel, the Luis Berger Group. None of the generator/ FEMA considerations were
reflected on our year long billing cycle, for Culebra consumers, despite this issue being of public
interest.3

In addition to the year long billing cycle, another concern is the absolute lack of transparency
associated with the PREPA accounting and billing process. As just one example, OIPC
explained that “basic tariff’s” encompass fixed charges that are exempted in these disaster
circumstances under PR Law #3, 2018. As the bill presents, it is impossible for a consumer to
assess partial payment for those itemizations included in the PREPA bill. This is just one
example of lack of billing transparency.

According to information obtained from the OIPC, the process of objecting to a PREPA bill may
be compromised if partial payment is made to the agency with the objection. People are being
told to submit partial payment on Culebra. Regarding transmission there appears to be no
oversight on illegal electrical installations and hook ups, lines are typically not removed before
new ones are re-installed, and lines are hung in such a way as to make them vulnerable to truck
snags. Streets remain littered with downed power lines to this date, considered hazardous
waste that requires proper disposal. Culebra’s current energy consumption lights the streets
and what’s left of vacation shacks and trailers now peppering the unplanned, illegal
urbanizations. These informal second homes and rentals pose a threat to the houses of local
islanders during storm events.

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Mary Ann Lucking PO Box 750 Culebra PR 00775

Recommendations for investigation / public record:

• The agency should be required to provide a transparent accounting of energy consumed with
clear and itemized break down of all service charges. Possibly there is a European model.

• The implementation of a transparent, online publication of agency spending, would provide
government a practically free mechanism of citizen regulatory oversight, given the public
importance of the services provided.

• While an investigation is clearly needed, it is not clear if an internal investigation can be
considered free from government conflicts of interest, where an undemocratically elected,
government appointed board is involved. An external, independent investigation free from
such conflicts is warranted.

• Regarding transmission, above the ground electric on Culebra is not well maintained, and is
installed illegally even for large urbanizations without consequence of government oversight.
These cables present a safety risk for pedestrians, visually contaminate look-out points for
visitors, and result in aggressive impacts to protected trees and wetlands associated with
above ground transmission electrical maintenance. Commonwealth investment in burying the
island’s vulnerable electric infrastructure is clearly warranted, given the financial importance of
Culebra to Puerto Rico’s over-all nature-tourism economy. For locals this would improve post-
storm resilience eliminated future recovery time expense to agencies and personal and local
business losses. Most importantly, communications could be protected address the wireless
communication failures that resulted in so much human tragedy documented post Maria, and
that disproportionally impacted the elderly and infirmed. This is a moral imperative. Such a
project could involve meaningful job creation for its 5 to 7 year duration, and be contracted to
require a percentage of job opportunities specifically for local islanders.

• While large-scale wind-energy has proven NOT to be a sustainable alternative for Culebra, a
smart and secure roof-top solar could provide a clean source of energy, without further
damaging green space valuable to the island’s nature-tourism economy. Scaling down
dependence on this island’s fossil fuels is long overdue, especially where the global insults of
combustion disproportionally impact small island communities like ours. The extreme
vulnerability of the submarine cables that service Vieques and Culebra, and lessons-learned
from last year’s disastrous hurricanes has to be that we need to move now, towards a local,
clean energy production state with secure, underground transmission. A clean solar
alternative would not have to serve all of the island’s energy needs at once, but it would help
to recuperate part, of not most of the almost 10K being burned everyday, on an island the
government promotes as a nature tourism destination. Isla Cuna del Sol clearly enjoys
abundant solar resources.

Sincerely, 

Mary Ann Lucking
MaryAnnLucking@gmail.com

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Mary Ann Lucking PO Box 750 Culebra PR 00775

References/ Attached Support Documentation

1. Certified Statement from the Municipal Government of Culebra
2. EMAIL: FEMA statement.
3. Pacheco, Istra. “Despilfarran Dinero y Limitan Opciones de Energía en Culebra” Centro
de Periodismo Investigativo, 26 Abr. 2018, http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/2018/04/
despilfarran-dinero-y-limitan-opciones-de-energia-en-culebra/ PRESS

c. Hon. William I. Solís Bermúdez
Negociado de Energia de Puerto Rico / comentarios@ energia.pr.gov,
Lcda. Ruth Santiago
Hon. José Antonio Vargas Vidot
Hon. Juan Carlos Delmau
Hon. Carlos J. Méndez Núñez
Lorell N. Ruiz Vargas / lruiz@oipc.pr.gov

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