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E&C Leaders Demand Answers from LUMA Energy in Wake of Puerto Rico’s Power Outages from Hurricane Fiona

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote to LUMA Energy today expressing deep concerns over the widespread power outages in Puerto Rico following the arrival of Hurricane Fiona, and demanding answers for the company’s ongoing challenges with providing reliable power to the island’s residents.

“We write with grave concern regarding the island-wide power outage in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona, which left roughly 1.5 million of your customers without electricity,” the three Committee leaders wrote to LUMA Energy President and CEO Wayne Stensby. “Ongoing outages and the complete disruption of power following Hurricane Fiona amplify concerns that LUMA has failed to adequately develop and maintain crucial electrical infrastructure in Puerto Rico despite its lucrative 15-year contract.”

LUMA has been Puerto Rico’s exclusive electricity operator since June 2021. Despite its service being riddled with chronic power outages and disruptions, Puerto Ricans spend an increasingly disproportionate share of their income on electricity: the average citizen in mainland United States spends 2.4 percent of their income on electricity, whereas Puerto Ricans spend 8 percent. Pallone, Rush, and DeGette therefore explained that while it was clear the company had not adequately prepared the island’s energy infrastructure to withstand even a Category One storm, concerns with LUMA predate the current blackout.

“Since LUMA assumed control of the grid in 2021, Puerto Ricans have reported recurring power surges that have interfered with critical medical care, disrupted access to education, and destroyed property,” Pallone, Rush, and DeGette continued. “There was never a doubt that rebuilding infrastructure following Hurricane Maria would be a challenge, but LUMA has been richly compensated to meet that challenge. Yet, results are not being delivered to Puerto Ricans, who deserve reliable and affordable energy. The collapse of the electric grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona is just the latest example of such failures.”

The Committee leaders requested information regarding how LUMA is allocating its contract money and why the company had not adequately prepared the island’s energy infrastructure to withstand a Category One hurricane. The three Committee leaders requested the following:

  • The amount of funding LUMA has received through its contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority;
  • What reliability benchmarks the company is obliged to achieve, as well as LUMA’s progress toward meeting these benchmarks;
  • What preparations were made in advance of Hurricane Fiona;
  • When LUMA’s customers will have their power restored;
  • Explanations for each of the seven rate increases LUMA has implemented since June 2021; and
  • What, if any, additional grid resilience technologies LUMA plans to adopt.

Full text of the letter is available HERE.

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