Members of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association gathered Monday to provide a status report on the island’s essentials, which include about a month’s supply of food and enough propane and diesel to meet the island’s needs.
The trade group took the opportunity to praise the work of government and public corporation employees to reestablish essential services, despite having a “fragile and deteriorated” infrastructure.
PRMA President Rodrigo Masses said it has been in direct communication with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to prioritize the hardest-hit industrial areas, which need to be reconnected as soon as possible.
“A number of manufacturing clients that supply critical needs have been reconnected,” he said.
Given recent events related to Hurricane Irma, the PRMA, Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (known as MIDA by its Spanish acronym), and other local associations and groups urged the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico and the government to push for a total transformation of the electrical system.
“This transformation must be rooted in a strict supervision and regulation of PREPA by the Oversight Board and the Energy Commission, based on metrics and parameters used by regulated utilities in the U.S. and internationally,” Masses said.
“The result of this transformation should be a reliable network at competitive and affordable rates for the island’s benefit and the revival of our economy,” he said, noting the regulators must have a hand in approving budgets, establishing rates, approving infrastructure plans and establishing transparent project and equipment purchases bids.
“The deterioration of our electrical system that we are experiencing today is the result of an unsupervised PREPA, resulting in an unreliable power supply and high prices,” he added.
Meanwhile, MIDA Executive Director Manuel Reyes said transforming PREPA is “synonymous with a robust supervision and regulation by the Oversight Board and the Energy Commission. Their roles are extremely important.”
Reyes also noted that following Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico has about three weeks to a month’s supply of food, which is the normal level.
As for the ports, Crowley Executives José Luis Ayala and José F. Nazario said they will travel to Jacksonville today to assess the impact of Irma on the premises, and hope to start moving containers today as well.
However, there’s a great number of containers at the port on the island now to meet immediate needs, they said. The Port of Jacksonville supplies about 85 percent of Puerto Rico’s food.
As for propane gas and diesel, Ramón González of Empire Gas said, “we have sufficient supply to meet Puerto Rico’s needs. It is important that customers have prudence and assess their need and inventory to be able to supply everyone equally. We have more than 400 trucks running all over Puerto Rico.”