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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

LUMA touts improvements in latest performance report

By The Star Staff

There were 25 million fewer service interruptions, LUMA Energy, the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system, asserted in its latest quarterly performance report.

There were fewer interruptions due to the installation of 3,500 automation devices, which are smart devices used to make outages smaller and shorter, LUMA said.

The private operator submitted its quarterly performance metrics filing to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau this week, highlighting improvements across key areas, including service interruptions.

Additional improvements were measured across multiple areas, including safety, and the duration and frequency of outages, when compared to the previous operators’ baseline, LUMA said.

“Over the last quarter, LUMA continued to make progress across multiple metrics. For example, LUMA’s effort to install thousands of automation devices has clearly helped our customers, saving them from millions of minutes where they would have otherwise gone without power,” LUMA President and CEO Juan Saca said. “In terms of the frequency of outages, while we are proud that we continue to exceed the performance of the past operator, the impact of vegetation on reliability highlights the necessity of enhancing our maintenance operations and the importance of our upcoming Vegetation Clearing Initiative. Simply put, we will not be satisfied until we achieve our goal to reduce outages by 50% in two years, and that is what we are working toward.”

To address the need to further accelerate a reduction in the frequency and duration of outages, and achieve its stated goal of a 50% reduction, LUMA has announced a series of reliability-enhancing initiatives, including clearing overgrown, hazardous vegetation from over 16,000 miles of power lines over the next three years through the operator’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-funded $1.2 billion Vegetation Clearing Initiative, which will further reduce outages by 35-45% across the island. The project is slated to start in the February/March timeframe, contingent on FEMA approval.

Another initiative would add technology to the grid, installing a total of 5,000 grid automation devices by July of this year to reduce the size and length of outages, as well as modernizing and upgrading substations, with plans to upgrade 50 substations in total and build six more in the next two years, all to further improve reliability.

Other initiatives include improving operational excellence by identifying and repairing transmission line hot spots.

In addition to reliability, LUMA’s quarterly performance report highlighted continuing improvements between October and December, 2023, including:

* the reduction of customer wait time by an average of 45%

* connecting to more customers

* reducing past due accounts of government agencies by 94% from the first quarter

* reducing the average wait time for in-person visits to customer service centers to less than 10 minutes, and

* helping connect more than 12,500 customers to rooftop solar, representing more than 85 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.

The private operator also reduced the average time it takes to resolve billing inquiries by 12%, or a reduction of four full days; improved response time to service requests and outages by over 15% since last quarter; continued building inventory, totaling more than $278 million in equipment; and reduced the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Days Away, Restricted, Transferred rate by 50%.

“As LUMA remains focused on improving reliability for our customers, our team is equally committed to prioritizing personal and public safety,” Saca said. “It is not enough to just get the job done, we are holding ourselves to the highest standards, with a steadfast commitment to improving operational excellence.”

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