Union: Governor breaking green energy promise with support for LUMA contract

By John McPhaul

Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Retirees Association (AJAEE by its Spanish initials) said Monday that the implementation of the contract between LUMA Energy and PREPA “will make salt and water” of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s campaign promise to achieve 100 percent energy self-sufficiency with renewable energy.

Rodríguez Ortiz said PREPA’s development plans are very far from the promises of the New Progressive Party and the three executive orders signed by the president of the United States, Joe Biden, with the aim of revitalizing the energy sector, eliminating the pollution produced by the use of fossil fuels in the energy sector by 2035 and the economy of the country in general by 2050, to lead the world in confronting the climate emergency.

“Contrary to this mandate, on Saturday, April 1, an increase in [the cost of] electricity service in Puerto Rico came into effect and several increases are expected in a row, while the plans to direct renewable energy projects are a mystery, if not to say nonexistent -- a deception,” the AJAEE president said.

“Apparently, Pierluisi proposes that we accept without protesting the increases in the cost of essential services, taking into account his words, when in January he told us that the citizens of the island must ‘get used to’ the adjustments in PREPA rates,” Rodríguez Ortiz lamented.

He emphasized that the contract between LUMA and the Pierluisi government establishes the decommissioning of PREPA’s “obsolete” thermoelectric plants to build new “modern and efficient” natural gas plants, leaving behind the proposed project for the development of renewable energy.

Rodríguez Ortiz questioned that “Mr. Pierluisi’s determination to deliver PREPA to LUMA is such that he does not realize the contradiction between that delivery versus his party’s promise of 100 percent self-sufficiency and renewable energy for 2050, the established deadline, as a campaign promise.”

He stressed that “we are facing a technically eliminated promise.”

“Something similar to the promise in the 1990s, when the governor at the time committed to reaching 35 percent of the recycling of materials used in Puerto Rico by the end of the century,” Rodríguez Ortiz said. “Today, only 15 percent of such material is recycled on the island. That is why we are educating the people about the lion’s contract between LUMA Energy and Governor Pierluisi to give them PREPA.”

The AJAEE president said the contract with LUMA “has to be canceled immediately.”

“Thus, we will not have to ‘get used to’ the frequent increases in the cost of electricity service that LUMA and Pierluisi will send us,” he said. “Nor will we have to face increases in the cost of drinking water, since 68% of the water processed by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority [PRASA] is provided free of charge by PREPA from its reservoirs. If Pierluisi manages to give PREPA to LUMA, this company will charge PRASA for that water, a cost that will be passed on to its users on the [water] bill.”

Rodríguez Ortiz said citizens should be alert because LUMA Energy “comes to market essential services to exploit them at unsustainable rates for the people, even though we cannot pay them.”

“This we cannot allow,” he said. “Pierluisi will be solely responsible for [handing over] this agency to a private consortium because as chief executive he leads the support for this contract, against all odds.”

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