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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

LUMA threatens to sue Ponce over contracting outside workers to repair grid

“Now they want to file a complaint against us because the Villalba Power brigades work to help our citizens,” said Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón, referring to LUMA Energy. “We will do whatever it takes to give Ponce light now!”

By John McPhaul

Ponce Mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón on Tuesday denounced LUMA Energy for threatening to file a legal complaint over the southern municipality accepting help from Villalba Power to re-energize communities and electricity-deprived “pockets” in Ponce.

“To the people of Ponce, I say that LUMA Energy does not serve the communities that are still without electricity, but opposes this mayor resolving it,” Irizarry Pabón said in a written statement. “Now they want to file a complaint against us because the Villalba Power brigades work to help our citizens. We will do whatever it takes to give Ponce light now!”

According to the latest data offered by LUMA Energy, the Ponce region supposedly had been 95% reconnected on Tuesday, 23 days after the passage of Hurricane Fiona through the southern and southwestern parts of the island.

LUMA said Monday that a total of 1,447,464 customers had power throughout the island, for 99%.

LUMA brigades were reportedly in the area of Pontifical Catholic University of Ponce on Tuesday, replacing power poles and controlling vegetation, according to the social media accounts of the private operator of the island’s energy transmission and distribution system.

Meanwhile, District 27 Rep. Estrella Martínez Soto charged on Tuesday that Francisco Prado Picart School in Juana Díaz continued to be without electricity service, thus preventing the resumption of classes there.

“It seems incredible that at this point LUMA Energy continues to take the long view and doesn’t prioritize energizing schools in our district,” Martínez Soto said. “The demand of parents, teachers, students and the mayor, juanadino Ramón Hernández Torres, is that they energize the school once and for all, an action with which I concur.”

Martínez Soto said she s one of the legislators who has raised her voice to denounce the indifference, insensitivity and inefficiency that LUMA Energy has shown for restoring electricity service for people in southern Puerto Rico.

“In a few days it will be one month since the passage of Hurricane Fiona through the island and still our schools are suffering from neglect and LUMA’s lack of priorities,” the legislator said. “This is already unsustainable and we are not going to remain silent in the face of so much ineptitude.”

“Beyond the demand we make today, we also urge the secretary of the Department of Education to echo our statements and to join our efforts to ensure that Francisco Prado School has energy service,” Martínez Soto said. “Our students should no longer pay the consequences for the LUMA’s incapacity, and therefore, we will continue to publicly demand that this campus be energized, so that the educational process does not continue to be interrupted.”

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