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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

González Colón: Gov’t still lacks a defined plan to address electricity crisis

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón

By The Star Staff

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón on Tuesday once again attacked the governing administration of her New Progressive Party (NPP) for, in her opinion, letting the plan to address Puerto Rico’s energy situation drift.

González Colón said that, in addition to the issue of energy costs, which will finally be clarified in federal court with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) debt adjustment plan, it is not known what has been done, if anything, regarding energy generation.

“The reality is that no upgrades are being made to any plant,” said the resident commissioner, who is seeking to become the NPP candidate for governor in this year’s elections, at a press conference. “You saw that a week ago, what was announced was that FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] is going to pay for the generators of the San Juan plants that burn fuel, so we are running again with generators as if we were in a hurricane after six years. And we have not made a single ‘upgrade’ to any of the plants.”

The resident commissioner wants to meet with the executives of LUMA Energy, the private operator of the electricity transmission and distribution system; Genera PR, the generation assets manager; and PREPA.

“We have not converted any [plants] to natural gas, we have not used new technologies, we have not built a new plant and that is where my questions are directed,” she said. “We can’t wait. These processes take longer than the permit process. How much longer does Puerto Rico have to wait to remodel or upgrade plants that are from 1970 and 1960 or the ’80s? [Until] we have a massive blackout? That people have to get used to living in Puerto Rico with blackouts twice a week in Guaynabo, Ponce or the rest of the towns? That is not acceptable to me.”

“People in Puerto Rico pay the most expensive electricity [rates] in the entire United States and yet we do not have it on a constant basis,” González Colón added. “We are not certain that we will have it and it is not clean energy and I agree that we use renewable energy. Puerto Rico has to diversify its basket to make them, which is constant, safe and obviously economical as well. I do not see the Government of Puerto Rico making proposals or moving in that direction.”

The resident commissioner was invited as a speaker at the third edition of the annual conference of the Puerto Rico Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Summit 2024, held at the La Concha hotel in Condado.

In her message, she emphasized the importance of electrical service reliability for the industry.

“While in other jurisdictions the manufacturing industry pays between 6 and 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, in Puerto Rico it is between 25 and 30 cents … not including any increase that will be approved as part of the bankruptcy or the fiscal adjustment that is promised would be [in place] for the month of March,” González Colón said. “These do have an impact, not just on residents. This has an impact on small and medium-sized merchants, but it will also have an incremental impact on the industrial phase because they are the most likely to be taxed and that, in my opinion, has not yet been studied.”

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