Despite being shorthanded, LUMA rakes in millions for services
By The Star Staff
LUMA Energy, the private operator of the bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system, has invoiced some $159 million for its services during the one-year transition period that ended June 1 and is expected to collect $115 million for its services after that despite claims that it has too few workers to do the job it is being paid to do.
The company is currently operating under an 18-month supplemental agreement with PREPA because the utility has yet to exit bankruptcy.
LUMA Energy has been under fire over its inability to fix power outages fast enough. Three LUMA workers alleged that part of the problem is that the firm has few workers, which according to Popular Democratic Party Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz, who is investigating the contract, may be in violation of the operation and management agreement.
LUMA Energy President & CEO Wayne Stensby did not show up Thursday at a hearing in the island House of Representatives to answer questions about LUMA’s operations.
On June 10, an explosion and fire at the Monacillos power substation in Río Piedras, which is under LUMA Energy’s control, left some 700,000 customers without power. On Wednesday, malfunctions at three power plants, which are under PREPA’s control, left thousands without power.
In a statement, LUMA officials blamed PREPA for the latest power outages, saying it was a generation problem.
LUMA did not confirm allegations that the head of the Monacillos facility resigned from his position.
Torres Cruz, who is chairman of the House Economic Development Committee, threatened at Thursday’s hearing to bring Stensby under a court order before his committee unless he shows up next Wednesday.
“He can’t do whatever he wants,” Torres Cruz said.
Torres Cruz said he had asked the Canadian consortium to turn over documentation on the number of workers available to fix equipment and on the number of power outages. He said the information is needed to ascertain whether LUMA Energy was complying with the operation and management agreement, which is supervised by the Public-Private Partnership Authority (P3A). LUMA has 2,200 workers but Stensby, in the past, has said he needs 3,800.
“They do not have the needed workers,” Torres Cruz said.