Oct. 26, 2005 V.I. residents will probably see their electric bills go up another $3 to $5 this month.
The Public Services Commission voted Wednesday to allow the automatic LEAC increases to continue until the end of this year. For October that increase for residential customers will be 3.7 percent.
The Water and Power Authority and the PSC had an agreement where WAPA could automatically adjust its charges to customers when the price of oil increases by $1.75 a barrel or more. The agreement had run for 14 months and had expired at the beginning of this month.
WAPA had petitioned the PSC to allow it to make a monthly increase the same size as the LEAC automatic increase would have been or to just extend the agreement and allow WAPA to continue the automatic increase.
After much debate and some stalling, PSC members finally decided for a three-month extension, with a complete review of the LEAC rates in January.
The vote did not come easily. Alric Simmonds, who was chosen to replace Valencio Jackson as chairman, had to ask three times to get a motion on the floor concerning the LEAC.
"The only consistent thing about this is that rate payers keep taking a hit," said new PSC member Joseph Boschulte.
He asked whether allowing WAPA to make automatic raises was not stopping its motivation for doing business less expensively.
Verne David said he was upset because WAPA was "ram-rodding" the issue through at the last minute. He told Nellon Bowry, WAPA's chief financial officer, "You knew this would happen a year ago," adding, "I am tired of this ram-rodding and them coming in with petitions at the zero hour."
WAPA had sent its petition for an extension a day before this month's PSC meeting was scheduled.
Bowry told the board that WAPA could not go long without making adjustments to charges in concert with the rising cost of oil. WAPA burns about 200,000 gallons of oil a month.
Simmonds, who voted against the original agreement allowing the automatic increases in the LEAC, abstained from voting for the extension.
Besides Boschulte, Raymond Williams, was also taking part in his first meeting. Jackson had not been re-nominated to the commission by the governor. The commission read a resolution of appreciation for Jackson's contribution to the commission. The commission re-organized at the beginning of its meeting by electing Simmonds to the chair and Alecia M. Wells vice chair.
The commission is scheduled to meet next on Nov. 28 and 29.
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