NGOs say LUMA not prepared to assume service responsibilities

By John McPhaul

Organizations that support the Queremos Sol proposal on Wednesday presented an urgent request to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau to address the service problems of LUMA Energy, saying the electrical power consortium “is not prepared to assume the critical responsibility for which it was hired.”

“In two weeks, LUMA has shown that it does not have the capacity, the interest, or the will to offer the people a quality service,” said Ingrid Vila Biaggi, president of CAMBIO, a signatory organization of the petition along with nine others.

“This contract is a setback to the transformation of the energy sector that Puerto Rico needs,” Vila Biaggi declared. “It is time for the indignation of different sectors of the country that have suffered all kinds of problems with the service in recent weeks to be heard. Here the government, including the Energy Bureau to whom we are writing, cannot sit idly by in the face of a poor and non-transparent operation, which costs us hundreds of millions of dollars. This contract must be canceled.”

The engineer said LUMA Energy in a year will invoice more than $130 million for the transition period.

In the document, the organizations requested “to reverse the erroneous interpretation of Law 120-2018 that has caused the displacement of thousands of experienced employees of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and that today leaves us with an unreliable service that puts the life and property of everyone in Puerto Rico at greater risk.”

“LUMA has made clear what we have denounced for months: LUMA does not have enough specialized human resources to manage the electrical system,” said Myrna Conty, coordinator of the Coalition of Anti-Incineration Organizations. “Not only have we had to endure interruptions as clients, but also other serious problems that threaten the safety of people and property. This includes putting the lives of people in need of medical equipment or medicine refrigeration at risk. LUMA has not been able to operate the system under normal conditions; we do not even want to imagine how it will respond if an atmospheric event occurs.”

The petition highlights that during a PREPA governing board meeting on May 28, LUMA revealed that it had only recruited about 2,100 employees, half of whom up to that moment had worked in transmission, distribution and administration functions of PREPA. In recent days, LUMA spokespersons have not been able to specify how many guards they have or how many of these were PREPA employees.

Due to the interruptions, delays and lack of workers that have characterized the start of LUMA’s contract, the groups also requested that the Energy Compliance Certificate issued under Law 120-2018 be revoked, since the implementation of the LUMA contract does not comply with the public energy policy of providing reliable service.

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