Pierluisi creates steering committee to oversee LUMA Energy contract
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced the creation of a steering committee to oversee the Public Private Partnership contract to run the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution granted to LUMA Energy.
The steering committee was established in response to Executive Order 2021-012, which calls for overseeing and ensuring that the enactment of the contract between the Public-Private Partnership Authority, PREPA, and LUMA covers the following points:
- That it does not represent an increase in the electricity rate;
- That it is not used as reason to dismiss regular PREPA employees and that they keep their benefits;
- That the necessary contributions be made to PREPA’s Employee Retirement System for employees who transfer to LUMA and decide to continue contributing to that plan;
- That there are measures in place to avoid conflicts of interest in the awarding of contracts; and,
- That clear and specific compliance and performance metrics are established and met.
“These were the concerns that I had publicly raised regarding the LUMA Energy contract. It’s important that all these points are addressed, and if some of them aren’t met, then the necessary recommendations should be made to amend it if necessary,” Pierluisi said.
“I’m in favor of the energy transformation and that Puerto Rico has a resilient and reliable electrical system. But at the same time, we have to safeguard the labor rights of our public employees and make sure that the energy service improves, and its cost is fair and reasonable for everyone,” he said.
The steering committee will be chaired by the Secretary of State, and composed by: the executive director of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority; the P3 Authority executive director; the executive director of PREPA; the executive director of The Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3, in Spanish); the secretary of the Labor Department; and the Housing Department secretary.
In response to the governor’s announcement, LUMA Energy CEO Wayne Stensby said the company is ready to work with the steering committee.
“We’re pleased that Gov. Pierluisi has formed this working group to ensure that the main objective of the agreement, the transformation of Puerto Rico’s electrical system into a customer-centric, reliable, sustainable, and affordable one, is met,” he said.
“Transparency is a fundamental value for LUMA, especially because a better electricity system will improve the lives of all Puerto Ricans, and we intend to collaborate with the committee in its task of safeguarding the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico,” he added.
Stensby said LUMA is recruiting thousands of employees to achieve the comprehensive transformation of the island’s electrical system. To that end, PREPA employees are receiving priority in recruitment and can currently apply for roles at LUMA prior to others.
He also said that employees who move to LUMA may choose to continue contributing to PREPA’s retirement plan or enroll in the 401K plan that LUMA offers its employees. LUMA employees will have access to additional benefits, including medical plan with pharmacy, vision and dental coverage, disability insurance and life insurance, paid in full by the company.
Regarding the electricity rate, LUMA clarified that, as established by the Puerto Rico Energy Transformation Law, it is the responsibility of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau to evaluate, set and approve the electricity service rates paid by consumers in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, P3 Authority Executive Director Fermín Fontanés said the selection of LUMA Energy was “the result of a rigorous, meticulous evaluation and selection process, and of methodical analysis, guided by the responsibility that governs all the P3 Authority’s processes.”
“This public-private partnership contract includes guarantees based on the best interests of the parties and of Puerto Rico. Since it was awarded, we promptly addressed and clarified all questions related to it, particularly those related to the rate, employees and the transition process, among others,” he said, while welcoming the creation of the steering committee.