The San Juan Daily Star
Senator accuses LUMA of ‘lying’ with projections
By The Star Staff
Senate Strategic Projects and Energy Committee Chairman Javier Aponte Dalmau on Tuesday accused LUMA Energy, the private operator of the island’s electric power transmission and distribution (T&D) system, of “lying” regarding its budget and expenditure projections.
“There are a lot of questions and LUMA evades the answers and what they have done is ask us for time. … It has been a great opportunity to request information, give them a week to produce it and evaluate it …” Aponte Dalmau told reporters. “What we are seeing is that the outlook for this contract is one in which the information that was released to make the projections was false information because what they allege about inflation, cost changes in prices, all of this was foreseeable and in the contracts, they are adjustable. Now the projections are based on what they based this contract on and, now that they are not being fulfilled, were undoubtedly projections that were not true.”
José Pérez Vélez, a representative of LUMA Energy, gave assurances that the company continues to work with the same budget level requested for the first three years and to date they have not requested an increase. He said that when the company began to operate the T&D network in 2021, initial budgets were submitted that would last three years and are still valid at the moment. He insisted that LUMA has not submitted a different request and reiterated that “for the three years that the initial budgets were going to last, they were not going to see changes.”
Along the same lines, Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago Negrón raised concerns about a request from LUMA Energy for a higher budget, according to what was reported in the press about a letter sent to the Public-Private Partnership Authority. Pérez said he has no idea of such a communication.
Santiago Negrón also questioned the LUMA official on the alleged suspension of the contract for vegetation control works. Pérez replied that the work was carried out at the beginning of the year.
Aponte Dalmau, meanwhile, asked several questions on the subject of renewable energy and questioned the withdrawal of four projects due to their facing “challenges” in the process of interconnection to the transmission network. David Monasterio, LUMA Energy’s regulatory officer, responded that the processes that the company is managing for this tender are interconnection studies, after the contracts are effective. He added that LUMA will perform the interconnection construction, which should be completed by June of this year.
Aponte Dalmau also addressed the expectation of a delay due to the loss of the aforementioned renewable energy contracts. Monasterio said that now the variables have changed, while Pérez noted that those contracts were not made by LUMA.
“The fact that Phase 1 has not taken place does not imply that it is LUMA’s responsibility,” he said.
Regarding its current number of employees, the LUMA representatives said that as of February, it had close to 4,000 employees. Of those, 1,451 people work in the area of field operations.