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Governor urges LUMA to restore blacked out service without delay


After a breakdown in a transmission and distribution line caused a blackout and shut down an Applied Energy Systems plant in Guayama, leaving 230,000 power customers without energy service on the first day of the school year, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said the utility had warned LUMA Energy that failure to perform maintenance on transmission lines would cause a collapse.

By The Star Staff


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia asked LUMA Energy on Wednesday to quickly repair the breakdown in a transmission and distribution line that caused a blackout and shut down an Applied Energy Systems (AES) plant in Guayama, leaving 230,000 Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) customers without energy service on the first day of the school year.


“I don’t have the details, but the important thing is that the situation is corrected as soon as possible; that is, that it lasts as little time as possible,” the governor said in response to questions from the press.


Asked if he is satisfied with the manner in which LUMA Energy is managing PREPA’s transmission and distribution system, the governor replied: “It is not a matter of being satisfied; we are all supervising LUMA, the Energy Bureau, La Fortaleza, the Public-Private Partnerships Authority, the House, the Senate.”


“These situations obviously happen due to the fragility of the system that we have; that is why I say that the solution is its reconstruction and we already have 40 projects approved by FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], more than 12 already under construction,” Pierluisi said.


Meanwhile, PREPA Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz said the utility warned LUMA Energy that a lack of maintenance of the transmission lines will cause a collapse.


“We are concerned about the condition of several transmission lines of our electrical system, in particular, the condition of the vegetation in the easements and their proximity to the lines, a situation that can be detected with the naked eye,” reads a letter sent to LUMA by Colón.


Colón also urged LUMA in the letter to carry out daily inspections with a helicopter to review and improve the condition of the transmission lines, something that if not done, he said, puts “electrical service at risk.”


LUMA Energy on Wednesday asked consumers to reduce their electricity consumption as a result of two transmission line collapses that caused the exit of all the AES units in Guayama.


“We understand the frustration service interruptions can cause our customers. Due to technical issues in transmission lines today, customers may be experiencing rotating outages,” LUMA Energy said in a written statement. “LUMA brigades are responding and working to restore service as quickly and safely as possible. To help reduce the likelihood of extended rotating outages today, we encourage everyone to conserve energy, especially during peak hours from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.”

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