New York pols, diaspora leaders, island groups tell PR governor to dump LUMA
By The Star Staff
New York elected officials, diaspora leaders and representatives of local organizations demanded Thursday that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia defend the people of Puerto Rico’s interests by preventing the renewal of the contract with LUMA Energy.
LUMA Energy is the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system. Because PREPA is in bankruptcy, LUMA Energy is working under the terms of a supplemental agreement signed together with a 15-year contract that is up for renewal on Nov. 30.
“The people of Puerto Rico and the diaspora in the United States have clearly conveyed a strong message: LUMA has to go,” said New York City Council members Tiffany Cabán and Alexa Avilés, who were on the island for the annual SOMOS Conference. “Governor Pierluisi must learn from the mistakes of his predecessors, who put money and self-interest before the well being of the island. We urge him to stand up to a company that has worsened conditions on the island.”
“Representatives of the Puerto Rican diaspora are present today because our families are affected by an unfair contract and poor service,” added Erica González, director of Power 4 Puerto Rico.
The groups that appeared at a San Juan press conference were Power 4 Puerto Rico Coalition, Vamos Puerto Rico, Todos Somos Pueblo, Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora, and Coalición Para El Pensamiento Energético. They joined diaspora members in “an effort to defend the people of Puerto Rico in the face of an abusive contract that does not serve the interests of citizens on the island well.”
“The governor must fulfill his ministerial role of protecting and serving the best interests of the people,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former New York City Council president and a spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. “That is why we demand that he terminate the contract with this company that has shown over and over again that it is incapable of providing the service that the people demand and deserve.”
Meanwhile, spokespersons for local organizations also joined the call not to extend the contract to the private energy consortium.
“We demand that Governor Pierluisi not renew LUMA Energy’s supplemental contract on November 30 and that he focus on transforming Puerto Rico’s energy system to renewable energy,” Myrna Conty, spokesperson for Quiero Sol. “Photovoltaic systems should be installed on roofs with storage and distribution. In this way, we will be able to face natural events without losing access to energy, which is an essential right for people.”
Jessica Méndez Colberg, from the Coalition for Energy Thinking, said LUMA Energy is paid millions of dollars for mediocre service and that there are other alternatives.
The spokespersons added that the citizens of Puerto Rico cannot continue to be harmed by the incompetence of LUMA and continue to risk losing their economic future.