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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

LUMA unveils 12-month plan to boost reliability of electric power system

LUMA Energy CEO Juan Saca

By The Star Staff

LUMA Energy on Wednesday unveiled “Building a Better Energy Future,” a 12-month plan to increase power system reliability and support services through islandwide initiatives and large projects.

The projects include vegetation clearance, substation modernization, grid automation, pole replacement and meter modernization. Likewise, LUMA said, the plan will focus on new customer tools to add to the progress the company has made in its two years of operations to create a more reliable, resilient, customer-focused and cleaner electricity system for its 1.5 million customers.

“Nothing is more important to us than continuing to improve the reliability of the electrical system and the service we provide to our customers,” LUMA CEO Juan Saca said. “These initiatives, designed to build a better energy future, represent billions of dollars in investments in Puerto Rico’s electrical system, and focus on increasing reliability. In addition, they seek to offer new ways to keep customers informed and serve them in each municipality.”

The new work plan, developed by Saca, focuses on addressing the company’s most urgent short- and long-term needs to improve the electrical system quickly and effectively.

To date, LUMA has reduced the number of service interruptions by 35% compared to 2022. Many of the initiatives in the 12-month work plan will improve the reliability of the electricity system, increase safety in communities, and transform how the company helps clients.

The following programs and initiatives, which will begin or accelerate in the next 12 months, focus on increasing the reliability of electricity service each year:

• Install more than 5,000 automated devices in critical infrastructure by July 2024 to reduce the impact and duration of service interruptions.

• Clear vegetation from over 16,000 miles of power lines over the next three years to reduce the number of outages by 35-45%.

• Repair and replace 100,000 light poles across the island over the next five years to increase resilience and strengthen the system to withstand hurricane-force winds and weather impacts (e.g. hurricanes).

• Make improvements to modernize 50 substations over the next two years, including the complete reconstruction of six key substations, which will reduce the number of outages and improve the reliability of customers’ electricity service.

• Install more than 1.5 million modern smart meters over the next three years, improving reliability, resilience and the billing process, reducing service restoration times and helping modernize the network.

The following programs will begin or accelerate in the next 12 months and improve customer service, communication and community safety.

• Share regular and more transparent updates on service outages through the recently launched planned improvements portal and text message alerts about unplanned outages on or before January 2024.

• Promote more ways to pay bills and apply for financial help online and in person on or before November 2023. This is part of the “Here to Help You” initiative, which aims to raise public awareness.

• Launch new energy savings programs on or before October 2023 to provide more access to information and resources to help customers control electricity consumption and reduce monthly electricity bills.

• Install over 300,000 lights in the 78 municipalities over the next three years so that communities consume less energy and are safer, more accessible and more eco-friendly.

Since June 1, 2021 LUMA has:

• Installed 1,500 automated distribution devices to identify service interruptions, reduce the number of affected customers and shorten service restoration times.

• Cleared vegetation from over 3,500 miles of transmission and distribution lines to improve system resiliency.

• Replaced more than 8,900 damaged poles to increase service reliability.

• Installed more than 49,600 lights to increase safety and energy efficiency in communities thanks to the $1 billion Community Street Lighting Initiative.

• Connected to more than 64,000 customers with solar panels with an average of more than 3,000 new solar connections each month, which represents the highest number in the history of Puerto Rico and more than 396 megawatts of clean energy.

• Initiated 393 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) projects, representing over $10.9 billion in federal funds, with 72 projects already under construction.

• Provided over $108 million in financial assistance to customers in need.

• Answered more than 4.9 million calls and reduced the average wait time to less than 30 seconds by this year.

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