Senate hearings to build case against LUMA Energy contract
By The Star Staff
Senate Strategic and Energy Projects Committee Chairman Javier Aponte Dalmau announced Tuesday that the panel will start public hearings today to analyze, through Senate Resolution 588, the LUMA Energy contract to determine compliance with established metrics so that a possible challenge to the agreement can be sustained in the Puerto Rico courts, given the refusal of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to cancel the public-private alliance whereby LUMA, a private consortium, manages the island’s electric power transmission and distribution system.
“We all agree that the LUMA Energy contract has been disastrous for the country,” Aponte Dalmau said. “But the reality is that there are some contractual commitments that cannot be broken just like that. We must gather the correct evidence and arguments so that the courts can have a solid basis on which to review the contract and be able to challenge it with all the legal guarantees so that the Puerto Rican people do not continue to lose public funds because of this contract.”
In the first of the public hearings, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym) have been cited to testify.
As part of the hearing process, which will last until Sept. 6, the Public-Private Partnerships Authority, the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association, the Mayors Association and Mayors Federation, and the Engineers and Land Surveyors Association, among others, are slated to appear.
The senator said additional hearings will be coordinated with the House of Representatives, which has already investigated the LUMA Energy contract, to jointly challenge the contract in court.
“We have already agreed with House Speaker Rafael ‘Tatito’ Hernández [Montañez], so that in the coming weeks both bodies can deal with House Joint Resolution 315 and other legislation presented, whose purpose is also to achieve the revision or cancellation of the contract,” Aponte Dalmau said.
The 15-year contract with LUMA Energy was signed in 2020. However, the public has been unsatisfied with the company’s performance because LUMA has done little to stop power outages.