Manufacturers call for real supervision of key players in energy system transition
By The Star Staff
The Manufacturers Association of Puerto Rico (AIPR by its Spanish initials) on Wednesday called for an effective supervision of LUMA Energy, the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to ensure they comply with their main responsibilities related to the modernization and privatization of the electricity transmission, distribution and generation system.
The AIPR’s written remarks Wednesday came amid calls from lawmakers and certain political sectors for the cancellation of the LUMA Energy contract amid anger over power outages. LUMA Energy is the private operator of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system.
“The appointment of Francisco Berríos, designated to lead the new Secretariat of Energy Affairs, and the calls for the [Puerto Rico] Energy Bureau to investigate whether LUMA Energy is complying with its contract, should lead us to steps that are conducive so that between the governor and the private sector a rapid consensus is achieved, the best use of federal funds is achieved, along with a reduction of power costs and the reduction in blackouts that we are suffering daily,” AIPR President Eric Santiago Justiniano said.
“We cannot accept any more excuses that it will take 10 years to rebuild the network, or that LUMA has legal immunity for its actions or omissions, or that they are the ones who dictate which metrics are measured and how,” added AIPR Executive Vice President Yandia Pérez. “On several occasions we have told the government of the importance of joining forces with the private sector and collaborating with transparency, as was done with the Green Energy fund and the ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] funds for energy efficiency and private distributed energy. We urgently need a response from the government and that, with the appointment of Berríos, who has to coordinate between agencies, we can achieve it.”
According to the AIPR, an electrical system with reliable and economically efficient essential generation at the distribution level is possible and necessary by 2025, as dictated by the mandates of Act 17.
“We hope that Berríos activates the capacity of local plans for programs with federal funds established by Law 17, until now unfulfilled, of efficiency and distributed energy, in the interest of the consumer to lower costs and increase resilience in homes and businesses,” the AIPR said in the statement.
Santiago Justiniano also noted that, in April 2021, the AIPR made a presentation to the House Committee on Energy Affairs related to the LUMA contract, with calls for citizen participation, metrics and an execution schedule in the transition to a transparent privatization.
Energy Bureau Chairman Edison Avilés Deliz publicly declared that LUMA Energy has not complied with metrics on the reliability of the electrical system, and that neither LUMA nor PREPA has performed well in following Bureau processes to advance the entry of a new generation of less expensive renewable energies.
“In order to achieve results, which we have not seen with the P3s in PRASA [the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority] or PREPA, amendments to the charter law of the Public-Private Partnerships Authority, and to the Law to Transform the Puerto Rico Electric System will be necessary,” Santiago said.