As PREPA workers protest LUMA contract, governor sees no reason to delay private operator’s takeover

By The Star Staff

As the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) gets ready for a one-year work stoppage to protest the LUMA Energy contract, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Monday that he sees no reason to delay the date when the private operator is slated to take control of the power utility’s transmission and distribution (T&D) system.

LUMA Energy was hired last summer to manage PREPA’s T&D, customer service and billing.

The contract is currently in the front-end transition period but on June 1, the consortium will take full control of PREPA’s T&D. On Friday, at a hearing in the island Legislature, it was revealed that two PREPA board members asked the governor to postpone the implementation of the contract because June 1 coincides with hurricane season and the utility has no employees.

Pierluisi said he has a steering committee, headed by designated Secretary of State Larry Seilhamer, that is overseeing the contract and will eventually provide him with a report.

“If there is a need to delay the contract, they will let me know, but that decision has not been taken and I don’t think there is a need,” he said.

In a separate press conference, Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) Executive Director Fermín Fontanés Gómez said the P3A has not been asked to amend the LUMA Energy contract.

PREPA’s unionized workers will hold a protest today at the Legislature against the LUMA Energy contract. The island House of Representatives is slated to vote on a report that would refer Edison Avilés, the head of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, to the Government Ethics Office for his role in the approval of the LUMA contract.

PREPA’s director of transmission and distribution, José Sepúlveda Aponte, said “the supervisors of the different technical offices, together with the management personnel of the public corporation, will deal with any situation that may arise during the hours of the strike.”

PREPA Client Service Director Noriette Figueroa Meléndez said the utility’s commercial offices “will open for regular hours to serve clients who have a prior appointment as assigned by, following our health protocols.”

The official noted that PREPA customers can receive services and pay their bills 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through and the Customer Service Center 787-521-3434. She also emphasized that consumers can make payments using the automated line 787-521-2121.

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