The San Juan Daily Star
Bill would require energy regulator to probe LUMA’s metrics compliance claims
By The Star Staff
Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael Hernández Montañez, House Energy Committee Chairman Luis Raúl Torres Cruz and Rep. José Rivera Madera introduced House Resolution 822 on Monday, which would require the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) to investigate LUMA Energy’s claim that it has complied with 84% of its performance metrics.
“It is unacceptable that, almost a year and a half after the entry into force of this agreement, the government only has a draft work plan to supervise LUMA,” Hernández Montañez said in a written statement. “That is why we are demanding that PREB certify the veracity of the data presented by LUMA, to demonstrate the company’s non-compliance with the agreed-upon metrics.”
In a recent public hearing, the director of one of the agencies in charge of supervising the contract with LUMA for operating the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system, the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A), the supervisor of the contract, acknowledged that he does not have sufficient personnel or the required expertise to supervise the contract. P3A Director Fermín Fontanés said he had not prepared a work plan for the contract’s supervision. Days later, he made a draft public.
Likewise, the officials supervising LUMA Energy could not answer questions about the number of employees LUMA has. While LUMA claims on social media to have more than 3,000 workers, the PREB has said the private consortium has between 1,200 and 1,300 workers. Fontanés accepted that he has not confirmed whether the data that LUMA gave him are the same that the company provided to the lower chamber.
“In the public hearing that we held, this administration’s incompetence and negligence to supervise LUMA and demand that it comply with the contract metrics was evident,” said Torres Cruz, who is investigating the agreement. “Fermín Fontanés himself admitted that LUMA continues without supervision and doing as it will, even when its actions may constitute a breach of the contract.”
Meanwhile, the PREB, the P3A and PREPA denied that the federal funds allocated for the reconstruction of the electrical system are conditional upon LUMA being in charge of managing the electrical network since the funds are only available to government entities or nonprofit institutions.
Rivera Madera questioned the “sloppiness” of the PREB, which has not imposed any fine for noncompliance on LUMA and has only issued warnings. PREB Chairman Edison Avilés Deliz accepted that the private consortium establishes the metrics and that the PREB has not confirmed their veracity.
“We will not allow that, while all Puerto Ricans suffer the consequences caused by the blackouts and interruptions of service of LUMA, this company continues on its own and without fulfilling its responsibilities, for which the PREB has an obligation to certify the veracity of its alleged compliance,” Rivera Madera said.
Torres added that “it is the lack of supervision by the Public Administration and, to a lesser extent, the insufficient control by the PREB regarding the performance of LUMA, which has resulted in the energy crisis that we are experiencing today.”
The speaker reiterated that the House will continue to monitor LUMA and demand results. At the same time, Hernández Montañez said, they will work to achieve the cancellation of the contract and reform Puerto Rico’s electrical system.
House Resolution 822 obligates the PREB to provide, before Oct. 10, to the secretary of the House of Representatives, a report containing the investigation findings on the veracity of the data presented by LUMA Energy to PREB in relation to the alleged compliance with 84% of the performance metrics.