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Energy Bureau to hold public hearings on LUMA’s performance

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau will hold public hearings on Feb. 16 and 17 to establish the metrics that will end up gauging the performance of LUMA Energy, the private consortium tasked with running the island’s electric power distribution and customer services.

At the hearings, the public will have the opportunity to express how LUMA’s performance should be evaluated. Given that the energy regulator is seeking to establish metrics to evaluate the company hired for the public-private partnership to manage the electrical system, the standards with which LUMA must comply will be determined, and whether it receives additional bonuses to its fixed compensation under the operation agreement for the transmission and distribution of the electrical network. The agency is also considering using the metrics to impose penalties for non-compliance that Local Environmental and Civil Organizations (LECOs) have requested.

In the hearings, citizens may offer their opinions and experiences orally before the energy bureau’s commissioners. A turn for comment may be requested until Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m. by contacting the bureau by phone, at 787-523-6262, or email [email protected].

“It is important that people express themselves on what is most important to them, what they expect from an electrical system, when an electrical service company could receive bonuses and when it deserves penalties. Public hearings are an opportunity for this. They cannot only express themselves, but also submit documents, photos, and graphs on different topics, such as service interruptions, job security, customer service, interconnection with photovoltaic systems, energy efficiency, net metering, vegetation management, reliability, among others,” attorney Laura Arroyo, of the nonprofit organization Earthjustice and legal representative of the concerned LECOs, said in a release urging the public to participate.

Last week, evidentiary hearings were held at the regulator, where LUMA executives and energy experts discussed the metrics proposed by the energy company.

“What we have been seeing during this process is that the metrics proposed by LUMA to measure its performance do not comply with the laws, regulations and principles that make up public energy policy,” Arroyo said. “This proposal chains us to an electrical network from the last century because it is not conducive to a true transformation of the electrical system. The people of Puerto Rico do not deserve mediocre metrics that do not lead to the expected result: a resilient, reliable and affordable system. There are millions of dollars … each year that LUMA could try to obtain through the metrics that are established.”

During the evidentiary hearings, electrical engineer Agustín Irizarry and the economist José Alameda, both professors at the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, offered their testimony as part of the LECOs.

“They propose the adoption of performance metrics that do not consider bonuses to LUMA for complying with the minimum expected effort, and indicated that only if LUMA exceeds expectations should it be rewarded with bonuses. On the other hand, if LUMA does not meet the minimum expectations, the experts propose penalties for LUMA, including the possibility of canceling the contract if the deficiencies do not improve,” the release reads.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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