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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

A PREPA Linemen Reserve waits for House approval

Sen. Ramoncito Ruiz Nieves

By The Star Staff

Ponce District Sen. Ramoncito Ruiz Nieves said Wednesday that the issue of electrical workers and former employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) who should be working in that public corporation in an emergency such as the current one was addressed and approved in the Senate in July of last year.

Still, the House of Representatives has not taken up the measure, he said.

“This issue had already been addressed with Senate Bill 465, in bipartisan fashion, with Senator William Villafañe Ramos, Senator Gretchen Hau, and myself,” Ruiz Nieves said in a press release. “It amends Act 120-2008, the ‘Law to Transform the Puerto Rico Electric System,’ to create the Puerto Rico Linemen Reserve attached to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). My urgent call to my colleagues in the House of Representatives is to submit this bill for a vote as soon as possible.”

Specifically, the measure would allow PREPA linemen who were transferred to other government agencies to be part of a reserve to be deployed during an emergency.

“While now they are brought from the United States at a very high cost, here we have the best in the world, those who also are committed to their country, and most importantly, who know Puerto Rico’s electrical system,” the senator said. “They don’t come to learn; they know where Barrio Bartolo of Lares or Achiote of Naranjito is, and at a better cost.”

According to Senate Bill 465, the reserve does not create an employer-employee relationship with PREPA. Still, the former PREPA linemen may receive additional incentives such as a differential during an emergency, workshops and training.

“It is unusual that today we have a lineman in an agency such as the Department of Transportation and Public Works or the Department of Education, when he or she could be helping to build Puerto Rico’s electrical grid,” Ruiz Nieves noted. “Today, we are dealing with the case of Hurricane Fiona, but unfortunately, the hurricane season ends on November 30. … Without a doubt, these linemen will be needed in the future, and the concept of the Linemen Reserve is the best mechanism to address the issue.”

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