Bills that would affect future PREPA PPPs get mark-up in House
By The Star Staff
Following the controversies around the contract that put the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution (T&D) system under the management of the private consortium LUMA Energy on June 1, the House Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy Committee on Tuesday marked up three bills that would impact future public-private partnerships at PREPA, which plans to put its power plants under private control this year.
The committee marked up House Bill 774, which calls for PREPA employees to keep their benefits and rights during a public-private partnership contract. The panel also passed House Bill 775, which would prevent the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau from intervening in the approval of PREPA’s public-private partnership contracts, as it did with the LUMA Energy contract, and to merely serve as regulator. It would also require government entities to perform studies before engaging in public-private partnerships. The committee also marked up House Bill 776, which would require the private firm participating in a public-private partnership to contribute capital or assets. Under the LUMA Energy contract, the private firm has very little risk, according to critics.
It was not immediately known if the bills will be voted on during this week’s session. June 25 is the last date to pass legislation.
Meanwhile, LUMA Energy made an urgent call Tuesday to municipal authorities and private sector contractors in Puerto Rico to refrain from attempting to operate the electric power T&D system independently. Attempting to do so is not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous and could expose unauthorized personnel to contact with energized power lines, potentially placing lives at risk. LUMA is aware of the outages affecting communities across Puerto Rico and is working safely and strategically to restore power across the island, prioritizing large outages and emergency situations, the private operator said.
Meanwhile, LUMA has created a task force of key customer service personnel to serve the needs of each of the 78 mayors. Those LUMA employees proactively communicate daily with every mayor to inform them of situations in the system that may be impacting their constituents. They also gather information about emergencies that may be taking place in individual municipalities to assign the necessary resources to address them as quickly and safely as possible. LUMA provides customers with several ways of communicating with the company to report outages and emergencies. Customers may call toll free 1-844-888-LUMA (5862), report a situation via Facebook Messenger (@lumapuertorico), or Mi LUMA service available at lumapr.com or by downloading the Mi LUMA mobile application. Customers are asked to provide a name, location, including street address, and a contact telephone number so that LUMA teams may work with the affected homes or businesses upon arrival.
Since LUMA began operating the T&D system on June 1, crews have been working seven days a week to successfully resolve 935 outages that have impacted 1,122,778 customers, the firm said earlier this week.