Puerto Rico to investigate power bill complaints after hurricane outage

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s Office of Energy said Thursday it will investigate how a private company handled complaints about power bills after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power on the whole island.

The announcement comes as a growing number of customers in the United States complain of being charged for electricity when they had no electricity and receiving higher than normal electricity bills. .

The independent Consumer Protection Agency urged the office last week to investigate difficulties in making such complaints.

The bureau called on Luma Energy to immediately cease any practice preventing consumers from disputing bills over the phone or online, and to extend the time for filing customer complaints, among other things.

He also demanded that Luma Energy provide proof within 10 days that it was complying with the bureau’s orders.

Luma said in a statement that during Hurricane Fiona and the state of emergency — as a way to prioritize critical calls — it has put in place a temporary measure to direct billing requests only through its app, web portal , his mail or his visits in person.

“As soon as the emergency passed, we resumed normal operations and customers were able to discuss their bills over the 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 noted that restoring power has been complicated in part by the dilapidated state of Puerto Rico’s grid, which was flattened by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Rebuilding the grid only recently began. .

Luma, which took over power transmission and distribution in Puerto Rico more than a year ago, has come under increasing criticism over lengthy outages that frequently occurred before Fiona even arrived.

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