P. Rico will investigate complaints about electricity bills after blackout

SAN JUAN (HPD) — The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority announced Thursday the launch of an investigation into the way in which the private company Luma Energy handled complaints about electricity bills after Hurricane Fiona left without electricity to the entire island.

The announcement was made at a time when more and more customers in this US territory are complaining about electricity charges when they did not have the service and of having received higher charges than usual.

Last week, the Independent Office for Consumer Protection urged PREPA to investigate the difficulties in filing this type of complaint.

PREPA called on Luma Energy to immediately put an end to any practice that prevents consumers from complaining about charges on their bills by phone or online, and to extend the deadline for customers to file their complaints, among other things.

It also demanded that Luma Energy present evidence within 10 days that it is complying with the agency’s orders.

Luma said in a statement that, during Fiona’s passage and the state of emergency — as a way to prioritize critical calls — it implemented a temporary measure to directly file billing complaints only through its app, its website , mail or in person.

“As soon as the emergency ended, we resumed our normal operations, and customers have been able to check their bills by phone,” the company said.

Of Luma’s 1.47 million customers, more than 8,800 remain without power nearly a month after Hurricane Fiona hit the southwestern region of Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm.

Luma officials have noted that efforts to restore service have been complicated by the deteriorating state of Puerto Rico’s power grid, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Work to rebuild the grid only recently began.

Luma, which took over the transmission and distribution of electricity in Puerto Rico more than a year ago, has faced growing criticism due to prolonged blackouts that occurred frequently even before Fiona’s passage.

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