Governor still expects ‘managerial change’ at LUMA, but insists canceling contract is ‘craziness’
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia insisted on Wednesday that LUMA Energy is still on probation and said he wants management changes, something that has not happened.
“[LUMA is on probation] that is correct; it has to improve its communication with the mayors, and there has to be a managerial change,” the governor said in a radio interview (WKAQ 580). “I asked for it before Fiona, but they haven’t done it so far and have to do it. It may be in process, don’t assume it’s not in process. They have to increase the personnel they have on the street.”
“It took three weeks to restore service to the vast majority of LUMA and Electric Power Authority subscribers; ideally, it would have taken less time. … At least, it would have taken two weeks, not three, something like that. Everything is being evaluated.”
Pierluisi added that canceling LUMA Energy’s contract is “a loquera” (craziness).
“Canceling the contract is folly, not to say madness. Because you want reliable electrical service, you don’t want major interruptions” he said. “It’s like turning off the switch and looking for someone else. Replacing LUMA requires at least a year and a half. The law requires it to go through the whole process of a proven public alliance, and what do you have to do? You would have LUMA anyway. In the end, now you are complaining about the service. Imagine if you told LUMA, ‘You are going out; we will change it but stay here to help us.’ That is, it is major nonsense.”
Meanwhile, the governor said, “hysteria” had been created by the alleged increase of $26 in the energy bill.
“Now, they have generated controversy over an alleged increase in the electricity rate because the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority [PREPA] owes a debt. They have created a whole unnecessary hysteria,” Pierluisi said. “What is correct and true is that the ongoing mediation did not work. And they have taken out information from within that mediation to then say ‘Look over there -- there was an increase of $26 for connecting you to electric power.’ Why are they taking that out if it [mediation] did not work? The judge asked the fiscal control board to submit a public debt adjustment plan for the authority on or before December 1. PREPA is bankrupt, and Judge [Laura] Taylor Swain is going to decide it. Don’t let them create unnecessary hysteria.”
“I will support the plan of adjustment if it is sustainable, fair, and reasonable for our people,” the governor added. “I already rejected the one that the [oversight] board had approved.”
Pierlusi said it is in Puerto Rico’s best interest for him to run for reelection so there won’t be a “cambia cambia” (constant change) of governors and that under his mandate, the island has improved.
“Definitely, that has always been there because Puerto Rico needs stability. Do you really think otherwise? Sure I do [intend to run for a second term], if it is in Puerto Rico’s best interest to get out of this cycle of changes every four years,” the governor said. “Puerto Rico has grown under my command.”