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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Isabela restores most of its power with municipal brigades

By The Star Staff

Isabela Mayor Miguel “Ricky” Méndez Pérez announced Tuesday that more than 80% of Isabela homes already had electric power service thanks to the work of the professional brigades organized by the municipality.

“Just as we had projected, we in the municipal administration organized the electricity recovery after the passage of Hurricane Fiona,” the mayor said. “Eight out of every 10 situations of lack of service were identified, attended to, and resolved by the municipal brigades, and that is a fact.”

Last week, Méndez Pérez -- an engineer and a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus -- gave the order for brigades from the municipality and retired personnel from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to begin work to repair disabled power lines in Isabela. Such action had been taken following the approval of the amended Municipal Code 107 of 2020, which states in article 1. 018, subsection (v), that “if a state of emergency is declared, as described in the preceding subsection, the Mayor or his representative may carry out all the necessary steps and work to normalize or reestablish the electric power system, as well as the facilities for the supply and treatment of water and wastewater, after prior written notification to the Electric Power Authority and/or the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, as applicable.”

The mayor added that he has identified the areas where there is still a lack of electrical service and is working on them.

“In the rural areas is where we are working now; we have, for example, barrio Planas, Barrio Arenales, sector Sombrero, and the Corea sector of Barrio Galateo Alto, as well as pockets in the Medina Urbanization and the Sonuco Sector,” Méndez Pérez said. “Specifically, the transformers that have already been ordered are missing there.”

One of the sectors energized on Monday was Los Pinos del Barrio Arenales.

“We are going to continue the work of the municipal brigades until we have 100% of the town with energy service,” the mayor said. “The reality is that, like so many others in Puerto Rico, the municipalities have had to intervene in good faith to accelerate the energization process.”

Regarding the management of LUMA Energy, which last week sent a law enforcement officer with a police complaint to try to prevent the activation of the municipal energization brigades, Méndez Pérez said “I owe the people of Isabela, I owe the people who live here, the tourists who visit us, the merchants and industrialists who do business in Isabela.”

“LUMA Energy has failed in Puerto Rico, and everyone knows that,” he said.

On Monday, LUMA claimed it had restored electrical service to 1.36 million customers, or 93% of the total. As of Monday, the Ponce region had only 83% of LUMA subscribers energized, while in the Mayagüez region the reenergization rate was 72%.

“This goes beyond numbers and percentages; we are talking about human lives,” the Isabela mayor said. “More than two weeks after the passage of Hurricane Fiona, we in the municipality, with fewer resources, have made more progress.”

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