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Puerto Rico’s electricity grid ranks last in utility performance survey

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The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority recently took last place in a survey conducted by J.D. Power that ranks 144 utilities based on six criteria that include power quality and reliability, price, customer care and communication.

PREPA’s score was almost 50% lower than the average utility, 47% worse than the second worst comparable utility and the lowest of the group of 144 utilities ranked in the survey.

As part as of its ongoing transition work to assume the management of the PREPA’ electricity grid, LUMA Energy submitted to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) the utility’s performance metrics showing its standing among its peers.

The data obtained through independent, third party sources placed PREPA’s overall customer satisfaction at the very bottom of all North American electric utilities, and with a large gap between PREPA and the next lowest-ranking utility.

“Puerto Ricans deserve much better. LUMA is listening to Puerto Ricans and leveraging experienced and knowledgeable resources to accomplish the urgent transformation that this electric power system needs to support improved quality of life and increased economic development in Puerto Rico for years to come,” said LUMA President Wayne Stensby

Filed documents also report the PREPA rate for 2019 of OSHA Recordable Incidents, which measure worker safety, was close to five times higher than the industry average. This incident rate is again almost 200% higher than the worst reported utility in the industry. The 2020 data is considered unreliable, LUMA officials said.

The documents also show service reliability levels are well below the worst performing utilities included in the most recent annual study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the independent body that utilities across North America use to benchmark service reliability.

The frequency of power outages in Puerto Rico is 300% worse than the next worst performer and the duration of such outages is 200% worse, according to the study. The same documents filed with PREB indicate that PREPA’s performance is continuing to degrade by more than 20% annually.

“These numbers confirm what customers have been telling us and further highlight how much work we have in front of us. LUMA is here to bring change and to be an accountable partner that will deliver the transformation of the electricity grid with improved customer service, increased emergency preparedness, a safer workforce to deliver overall economic recovery for the island,” said Stensby. “This is the kind of work our parent companies have accomplished successfully across the globe and the critical work that we must do for all Puerto Ricans.”

It is expected that LUMA will assume operations of the electric grid by mid-2021. Meanwhile, LUMA continues to work on its other regulatory filings which include the assessment of the entire transmission and distribution system. 

The documents will be filed for evaluation and approval with the PREB in the coming weeks, “to start executing from day one,” the company said. 

LUMA’s arrival to the local market has been met with opposition, and its contract to PREPA under a public-private partnership will be reviewed by a committee that Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi recently appointed.

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