• The Star Staff

Environmental groups: LUMA Energy’s intentions are to enrich itself

By The Star Staff

The environmental organizations that make up the Renewable Energy Alliance Now charged Wednesday that LUMA Energy’s billing, which has amounted to $26.3 million in just two and a half months, shows that the company wants to enrich itself at the expense of the people of Puerto Rico through the island Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

Upon examining the LUMA Energy invoice and billing reports submitted to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau from June to August, the Alliance highlighted that LUMA’s billing includes a total of $283,492 in attorneys’ fees, $150,000 in advertising and $301,237 for its executives.

“How many police or PREPA employees are paid for a whole year with such an amount?” said Adriana González, a grassroots organizer for Sierra Club Puerto Rico and member of the Alliance. “Even more outrageous, the reports of these LUMA invoices do not indicate the cost for each service that the company outsourced, as they should. If the invoices do not detail how much and to whom was paid with public funds, they are not justified.”

The organization also questioned why the many millions of dollars in funds assigned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the reconstruction of PREPA do not include a penny for renewable energy and warned that, as is already evidenced by this billing, the funds will enrich LUMA, as happened previously with companies such as Cobra Energy and Whitefish, which were hired to perform restoration work for PREPA.

“We denounce the government of Puerto Rico for once again not prioritizing the needs of the country, since they are the ones who decide how to handle the funds under the parameters of FEMA,” González said.

Lydia Díaz, from the Yabucoeño Pro Quality of Life Committee, said “it is regrettable that this allocation of funds of almost $10 billion [in disaster aid] to transform the electrical system does not have an allocation for renewables.”

“We do not need an improvement of the obsolete system that we have, we need a true transformation that is in line with the public energy policy established by Law 17-2019 to have 100 percent energy from renewable sources by 2050,” she said.

Amy Orta Rivera, a member of the organization El Puente-Enlace Latino de Acción Climática, asked “How many solar panels could have been installed on roofs with $26 million?”

“The money is not lacking, the will is lacking,” she said. “This is why we cannot let FEMA funds enrich LUMA.”