Governor to LUMA: ‘There’s no room for excuses’
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Thursday that LUMA Energy, the private consortium that manages the distribution and transmission of energy in Puerto Rico, “has to make changes in its execution plan to improve the service they’re offering to our country significantly.”
After three major outage events in less than two days that have left hundreds of thousands of people without power, the governor said that “it’s LUMA’s responsibility to operate the electrical grid under its critical state.”
Pierluisi urged LUMA Energy to accelerate reconstruction projects with the approval of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, and effectively use the available resources for essential matters, such as vegetation management along transmission lines and the updating of critical sections of the grid.
“A year and three months after assuming control of the electrical grid, there’s no space or tolerance for excuses or regrets,” the governor said.
At the same time, Pierluisi said that whenever there’s a power outage, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), LUMA Energy, and private generation plants have to act “with the utmost sense of urgency to restore service.”
Later in the day, LUMA Energy President & CEO Wayne Stensby rejected that it is the transmission and distribution lines that have caused damage to the generation plants, as asserted earlier in the week by PREPA Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz.
“That’s my point, transmission lines do not cause damage to generating plants,” Stensby said at a news conference. “These generators have protection and control equipment in order to maintain and avoid these situations. The important thing is not to assign blame, but that we work together, not to distribute the blame, but to solve the problem.”
Also on Thursday, the governor announced the creation, through an executive order, of an office of the auxiliary chief of staff for energy affairs, to be led by Francisco Berríos Portela, an engineer.
“In order to guarantee that the public policy of this Administration on energy matters is implemented, it is necessary to create an auxiliary secretariat of the government that is in charge of supervising, supervising and coordinating everything related to the energy issue,” Pierluisi stated in Executive Order 2022-043. “The foregoing, in order to have a reliable and accessible electrical system, at a fair cost and that allows economic development on the island.”
Pierluisi said the secretariat, which will be attached to the office of Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales, will have the function of supervising the transformation and modernization of the electrical system, in order to ensure that all of Puerto Rico is provided with service that is efficient, robust and at the lowest possible cost. In addition, it will serve as a link between the government, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, the State Office of Energy Public Policy and the municipalities in relation to energy issues.