Vegetation is main cause of outages, LUMA chief says
By The Star Staff
LUMA Energy President Juan Saca said Wednesday at a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Strategic Projects and Energy that vegetation near power lines is the main cause of power outages.
“The number one problem with disruptions is vegetation, and this will take three years [to fix],” Saca said at the hearing chaired by Sen. Javier Aponte Dalmau.
In his deposition, Saca also identified failures in old and inadequate equipment and a lack of optimization of the system with new technologies as additional reasons for interruptions in electrical service.
Aponte Dalmau asked about the maintenance contracts, and Saca said they are obtained through bids. If the contract for pruning exceeds $10 million, it must be approved by the Financial Management and Oversight Board, he said.
Aponte Dalmau also asked about the realization of a new energy model with a $10 million federal allocation. Saca responded that it will not be enough and that over $3 billion in projects and over $10 billion in total will be required.
Saca also stressed the need to think of the Puerto Rico system as one and the need for constant collaboration with other components such as AES and Ecoeléctrica. He spoke of increasing communication with citizens, including text messages about interruptions and other data.
Saca also asked citizens not to plant trees near power lines and announced future projects to reduce service interruptions.
Prior to concluding the hearing, collaboration with the mayors on the issue of lighting and the acceleration of projects was discussed with the help of the energy secretary.
LUMA Energy has 4,000 employees, of which 1,435 work in field operations, including 973 guards, of which 657 are trained to work with energized lines.