Appeals court orders Torres Cruz to file brief on LUMA petition
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Court of Appeals has ordered Popular Democratic Party Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz to file a brief on Monday regarding LUMA Energy’s petition to avoid turning over to the island House of Representatives documents related to the operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution (T&D) system.
The court of appeals temporarily put on hold proceedings held in a lower court in which lawyers representing Torres Cruz asked a judge to find LUMA Energy in contempt for refusing to provide documents and other information regarding its first month of operations as manager of the PREPA T&D system.
The judge had previously ordered LUMA to turn over the documentation, but the private operator had the process transferred to the federal court, arguing that the lawmaker was affecting PREPA’s bankruptcy. U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain disagreed and remanded the case to the local courts.
Although there was a court order requiring LUMA to provide the documents to the House, the private operator declined to do so. Torres Cruz then sought the contempt of court order, but LUMA appealed the decision. Among the items Torres Cruz requested are internal communications between several parties involved in LUMA’s contract to control critical components of Puerto Rico’s power grid since June 1.
After a one-year transition period, LUMA Energy took over PREPA’s T&D system on June 1. Since then, public outcry against LUMA has intensified because of numerous power outages and an explosion in a San Juan electric power command center and substation that left practically the entire island in the dark.
Torres Cruz, who chairs the House Committee on Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy, has said the contract with LUMA Energy should be cancelled because the company has done a mediocre job so far as manager.