Head of PREPA retirees: LUMA must be held accountable

By John McPhaul

Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Retirees Association (AJAEE), made a call Tuesday to mayors, legislators, retired employees and laid off colleagues from the power authority and other government agencies to desist from making it easier for LUMA Energy to evade its obligation to the power utility, known in English by its acronym PREPA.

“LUMA’s attitude explains the looting of our Retirement System on the 7th of this month; the complications in the electrical system after the explosion in Monacillos last Thursday the 10th; the delay in putting unit # 6 of the Central Costa Sur into service on Friday the 18th when the electrical system was on the verge of collapse; the nearly 24-hour delay to oil the unit’s main output transformer, a routine task that normally takes three or four hours,” Rodríguez Ortiz said. “They also prevented the access of the employees of our Retirement System to their offices last Monday the 14th, and [were responsible for] the delay in the repair of the emergency transformer in generation units 9 and 10 of the Central San Juan because now LUMA even takes care of the transformers in the generation plants.”

“We call for them to desist from making it easier for LUMA to evade its obligation to PREPA. The people do not deserve this disaster in the electricity service that LUMA has created,” the AJAEE president continued. “On the contrary, we have to demand that they comply with the contract or that they just leave because they have been awarded $150 million and they have made history with the chaos into which they have led the electricity service in Puerto Rico.”

Rodríguez Ortiz added that “in the face of the tolerance and complicity of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi with LUMA Energy, the people must demand the exit of LUMA before they completely destroy our electrical system.”

“Although they want to be the victims, these people have not been in Puerto Rico for 21 days, they have been billing for a year and telling the country that they were ready to execute [their duties] with responsibility and total control when they assumed total control, but it was all a hoax,” he said. “They came to improvise, but paid for by the people while committing serious mistakes that threaten the life and safety of the people.”

Rodríguez Ortiz said he regretted that the governor delivered PREPA to LUMA Energy, refusing to thoroughly review the contract, claiming that it was already signed by the previous Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and repeating the version that the federal government would only deliver the funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the reconstruction of the electrical system of Puerto Rico to a private entity.

He stressed that the electrical system “is at its worst and not because the poles fell, it is because of the performance of LUMA, such as the three houses that burned down in San Sebastián.”

“We have seen cables that have burned the poles and in turn the residences,” Rodríguez Ortiz said. “They have been burning until they have melted and fallen to the ground and that is happening because probably, where LUMA and those who have voluntarily gone with the mayors to provide service in good faith, what they are doing is tying cables and where they have blown fuses, leaving it in a direct circuit, knowing that, if it has a fault inside, that wiring is going to heat up and catch fire. We saw images of cables on the ground moving due to the current and emitting smoke because they are tying cables without using fuses and so-called machetes.”

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