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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

LUMA can’t tell Congress how long it will take to stabilize electrical system

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón

By The Star Staff

During public hearings before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday in Washington, LUMA Energy Senior Vice President Shay Bahramirad could not answer Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón’s question about the estimated time the private consortium believes it will take to stabilize Puerto Rico’s electrical system.

“What is the estimated time it will take for the electrical system to be up to date and ready to be considered fit according to current parameters, and how much of that will depend on FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] funds?” González Colón asked.

“This is a journey, and the importance of the projects that FEMA is going to fund is that they will help continue to contribute to the progress that has been made,” Bahramirad replied. “The time of the outages has been reduced by 30 percent …”

“You are an engineer. You make plans, so my question is, what is the estimated time you have to get the power system fixed?” González Colón asked again. “That’s a simple question: Is it a year or two years? How many months? I know you need federal funds to make that progress, but do you have that time estimate?”

“What I can tell you is that in the next few months, the reliability in the system is going to improve …” Bahramirad said.

“So then you don’t have that estimated time that I am asking you about?” the resident commissioner interjected.

“What I can tell you is that the number of projects that are in FEMA, each one of them is going to improve the reliability of the system,” Bahramirad said.

“She does not have an estimate of when the system will be ready; I just wanted her to answer that,” González Colón said.

Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy Rivera noted during his deposition that the reconstruction plan, which has to be submitted to FEMA and COR3, is supposed to take five years.

Regarding the number of employees, Bahramirad answered that it is 3,428, of which 1,300 work in the field.

The resident commissioner asked if LUMA had already made preparations for the hurricane season in case it had to transport brigades to the island. Bahramirad said they have agreements with the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corp., Edison Electric Institute and the American Public Power Association. In addition, 120 brigades, including linemen, from LUMA’s parent entities, are ready to travel to the island if necessary with the passage of Tropical Storm Fiona this weekend.

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