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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

LUMA’s workstyle is ‘riskier,’ Guaynabo mayor says

Guaynabo Mayor Edward O’Neill Rosa talks with residents of the metro area municipality.

By The Star Staff

Guaynabo Mayor Edward O’Neill Rosa said Tuesday that the LUMA Energy consortium, where he worked as chief of brigades, “doesn’t fix anything.”

“They don’t fix anything because they are like a separate farm,” O’Neill Rosa said in a radio interview (NotiUno). “Those people came to manage the transmission and distribution part. If you came to manage that, talk to the mayors, and reach agreements. That MOU [memorandum of understanding], which has not reached me, is done by the mayors for free.”

The memorandum of understanding, Bayamón Mayor Ramón Luis Rivera Cruz said, consists of debris removal, vegetative material removal and traffic control.

O’Neill Rosa said it is dangerous for mayors to “start to energize sectors in a crazy way” because they can cause the loss of lives and the energy system could collapse again.

However, he understands that it is absurd that, more than a week after Hurricane Fiona made landfall, there are still so many power customers without service. When asked what he attributes the situation to, the mayor replied that it is LUMA’s working style.

“Although they say that their system of working is safer, the truth is that it is riskier,” he said.

O’Neill Rosa noted that, in terms of safety, LUMA leaves the breakers on in the substations when they are supposed to turn them all off. That causes, the former LUMA Energy employee said, places where there are live wires on the ground when a substation is reenergized, which represents a safety risk to anyone.

“Here, they have left LUMA alone to work on their own, as they want and as they please, and that’s not the way to do it,” the Guaynabo mayor said.

Morovis to activate its brigades

Also on Tuesday, Morovis Mayor Carmen Maldonado González confirmed that the municipality declared a state of emergency for the activation of municipal brigades as of this Friday to assist with improving the condition of the electrical system in her northern-central town.

The decision is in accordance with Law 107 of Aug. 14, 2020, known as the “Municipal Code of Puerto Rico,” which allows mayors to deal with unmet electrical and water challenges five days after notifying the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) or the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewer Authority.

“As in the rest of Puerto Rico, mayors are the first line of service to the citizenry. In many cases, particularly with sick people, having electric power service is a matter of life or death,” Maldonado González said in a document that was sent to the management of LUMA Energy, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia. “The work we will do in the municipality to restore power service will last uninterruptedly, as long as the financial condition of the municipality allows it, trying to restore power to each Moroveño.”

The official document specifies that “due to the laziness, delay, and lack of notification of information on the work, or schedule of work, to restore power service to the residents of the Municipality of Morovis, by PREPA and LUMA, we have determined to activate such provision.”

“We cannot remain with our arms crossed in the face of the inefficiency and lack of personnel of the private administrator of Puerto Rico’s electric power system,” Maldonado González continued in the document. “To do nothing, at this time, would be to settle for the mismanagement of the electrical system. We will not be complicit in the suffering of our people and the country.”

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