Union chief: Gov’t awarded LUMA an additional contract for $58 million for grid maintenance
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico government gave $58 million to LUMA Energy to maintain the power grid, on top of the multi-million contract it already has to operate the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution (T&D) system, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym), said Tuesday.
A source on PREPA’s board of directors, meanwhile, said that no such contract was discussed with the members of the board, as it should have been. The source said the contract may be to help LUMA get out of its deficit.
LUMA Energy took over PREPA’s T&D system June 1 of last year, following a one-year transitional phase as part of a 15-year management contract that totals $1.5 billion. The contract is being managed by the Public-Private Partnership Authority.
“This [original] contract is so fabulous that they dismantled the entire Authority [PREPA], when they saw that it did not have the personnel to do maintenance, awarded [LUMA Energy] a contract for $58 million more than what it already had contracted for with LUMA to maintain all the switchyards and the protection systems of the plants,” Figueroa Jaramillo said in a radio interview. “LUMA’s contract [no longer] is for $100 million [per year], it’s for $160 million.”
The union leader said switches must be inspected every two months but the private operator waited nine months to inspect them after a power failure at the Costa Sur power plant in Guayanilla that left Puerto Rico in the dark for several days last week.
LUMA Energy since November has been recording deficits that are totalling almost $60 million.
“What a coincidence that this contract is for $58 million and LUMA Energy has a deficit for $60 million,” the source said.