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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Senator tells governor to keep LUMA Energy on a short leash

Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves

By John McPhaul

Ponce District Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves warned on Thursday that the deficit in LUMA Energy’s operations anticipates a possible additional increase in the electricity rate caused by the administration of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s lack of control over the private consortium.

LUMA Energy took over management of the island power authority’s transmission and distribution system last June.

“Gov. Pierluisi insisted on keeping the contract with LUMA intact, alleging that the Electric Power Authority [PREPA] did not know how to manage its resources and that LUMA would manage them better, creating savings for the people of Puerto Rico,” the Popular Democratic Party senator said. “However, the recent report presented by LUMA on their operations shows that they are spending more than what is contemplated in their contract and the service does not improve. Now it emerges from a report from the privatizing entity itself that they have an operational deficit of $28 million which, added to the deficit of the previous semester of $32 million, shows an alarming operational deficiency on the part of that privatizing entity of about $60 million in six months.”

Ruiz Nieves emphasized that, despite the unfortunate management on the part of LUMA, the Pierluisi government has refused to exercise active control over the operations of the company that, he said, walks free without responding to anything other than its best economic interests. Despite the fact that one of the main functions of LUMA is to improve the energy system, not a single project of the supposed substantial rehabilitation that this entity was going to carry out has been seen, but several increases in the electricity rate have been approved since June 2021, the senator said.

“The cost of electricity has been on the rise since LUMA took over the administration of the energy system, increasing by 25% in eight months,” Ruiz Nieves said. “These increases are not only attributed to the increase in the cost of fuel, but also to the transfer to the consumer of LUMA’s operational deficiencies, the extravagant salaries of its executives and the uncontrolled expenses of its administrative processes. Now we are exposed to a new increase in the energy rate to compensate LUMA for its operational deficits.”

The legislator alleged that the governor, with his negligence, does not protect the consumer or promote aggressive oversight of LUMA’s performance. But his inaction allows LUMA to maintain its million-dollar income and protect its own best interests, which are not the well being of the people.

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