The Frente Amplio Todo Puerto Rico contra LUMA (Broad Front All Puerto Rico Against LUMA) and the Electric Industry & Irrigation Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym) arrived today at the Monacillos substation in Río Piedras to demonstrate protest against LUMA Energy.
Spokespersons of the organizations present denounced that LUMA Energy has not been able to fully comply with its contract 24 days after it began. The company has been in charge of electric energy transmission and distribution since June 1, while the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) still oversees generation.
"We are here because the [Financial Oversight and Management Board] and its lawyer, [Gov.] Pedro Pierluisi, are the ones who have imposed LUMA. With what happened two weeks ago in Monacillos, it was shown that LUMA's contract is false. LUMA does not have the capacity to operate PREPA," opined Jorge Lefevre, spokesperson of the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU by its Spanish acronym). He alluded to Gov. Pierluisi's former job in the private sector, wherein he offered legal counsel to the Oversight Board.
"They are turning public service into a commodity for private gain," Lefevre added.
Likewise, Ricardo Santos -former president of Utier- said that protestors are convening because "the people are tired of LUMA's ineptitudes." Although a federal investigation eventually said that the Monacillos fire was caused by a system failure, Santos initially did not rule out sabotage from his own peers, although he shifted the blame to other parties. "If there was sabotage in the fire at the Monacillos substation, it will be the responsibility of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi and the executives of the Consortium," he said in a radio interview in an effort to relieve the organization of responsibility if its members had indeed been found guilty of sabotage.
The protest comes a day after the president and CEO of LUMA Energy, Wayne Stensby, acknowledged that he does not know the causes of the multiple blackouts that have occurred on the island since last June 1.
He also indicated that calls from clients have increased in recent weeks. The daily average of calls is in 22,000, mostly to report failures in the electrical system.
The blackouts reported on the island are attended by 440 employees who work for LUMA. Stensby said during a public hearing in the House of Representatives that this staff is enough to handle blackouts and system failures.
Throughout today, Stensby must provide the House Energy Committee, among other things, where the three call centers that belong to LUMA are located and the number of employees that work in it. It must also provide information on the other three call centers that were subcontracted by private companies, how long the contract is for, how much is being paid for those services, and how many people work in those subcontracted centers.
Likewise, he must submit a list with the names of the employees who worked for PREPA and were hired by LUMA; the number of employees working in the customer service area, and the breakdown of the orderlies who currently work for the company, as well as their categories. In addition, he must provide the number of brigades contracted by LUMA and the breakdown of the services they provide, as well as their cost.