• The Star Staff

US House Natural Resources Committee to discuss PREPA-LUMA deal

By The Star Staff

The U.S. House of Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing today to discuss the state of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the recent agreement with LUMA Energy to manage the utility’s transmission and distribution system.

Testifying at the hearing are PREPA Executive Director José Ortiz, Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) Chairman Edison Aviles, and Fermín Fontanes, director of the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority.

Also testifying is Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union; Ruth Santiago, spokeswoman for the Queremos Sol Coalition; and Josen Rossi, head of the Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy.

The LUMA Energy contract has been under fire because the jobs of current PREPA workers are not guaranteed and because of concerns it may lead to rate hikes.

The hearing comes after the PREB ordered PREPA to show cause as to why it should not be levied a fine for failing to present progress reports on its connection to renewable energy sources and on its efforts to increase the use of net metering.

In an order issued Tuesday, the PREB asked PREPA to present by Aug. 7 a progress report on interconnection to renewables, distributed generation and net metering, which is a way to encourage the use of renewable energy sources at the consumer level. Under this scheme, the renewable system supplies all or part of the client’s energy consumption and excess energy, if any, is exported to PREPA’s energy system. Customers receive a credit when their system exports power to the electricity network.

Distributed generation, meanwhile, is the term used for power generation systems that are interconnected and operate in parallel with the distribution networks of electricity companies.

The PREB also ordered PREPA to appear at a hearing on Aug. 11.

Under the law, PREPA is supposed to draw energy entirely from renewables by 2050.