San Juan, PR
Today, Puerto Rico judge Anthony Cuevas ordered the immediate arrest of Wayne Stensby, CEO of LUMA Energy, finding him in contempt of court for LUMA’s refusal to provide public documents requested by the Puerto Rico House of Representatives more than 6 months ago. LUMA Energy, a consortium of Houston-based Quanta Energy Services and Alberta-based ATCO, started operating Puerto Rico’s transmission and distribution system on June 1st under a 15-year contract.
“LUMA Energy has been a disaster for Puerto Rico,” stated coalition spokeswoman Ingrid Vila-Biaggi, president of CAMBIO PR and former chief of staff of the Commonwealth government. “LUMA failed to hire thousands of Puerto Rican workers who previously worked for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and we have seen longer outage repair times, voltage fluctuations, and even house fires due to LUMA’s mismanagement of the grid. Mr. Stensby’s actions are typical of LUMA’s arrogance and lack of transparency since the company’s arrival on the island.”
Myrna Conty, coordinator for the Anti-incineration Coalition added: “Not only has it been the poor service that has entailed expenses and costs for families who have lost appliances and groceries, but we have also seen how LUMA has sought to increase the rate without justification. This contract must be canceled now.”
The Queremos Sol organizations have asked the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, which is currently investigating LUMA Energy, to demand the cancellation of the contract by the Congressionally-created Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. The Board and its consultants played a significant role in both the negotiation and approval of the LUMA contract, in a procurement process that raised multiple red flags.
The organizations also wrote to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) urging that another LUMA executive, Mr. Mario Hurtado, be removed from his position on a DOE advisory council given the company’s poor conduct in Puerto Rico.
The government of Puerto Rico is continuing the process of privatizing the electrical system, with private contractors for the operation of the island’s power plants to be chosen by the end of the year. “The government entities that are negotiating these privatizations have lost any credibility they might have had, as a result of LUMA Energy’s complete lack of transparency and incompetent management of the grid,” said Pedro Saadé, an attorney for the Queremos Sol coalition. “We strongly urge the government of Puerto Rico to halt the generation privatization process and not repeat these same mistakes again.”
Earthjustice is a member of Queremos Sol, a coalition of community, environmental, and labor organizations that propose the transformation of Puerto Rico’s energy model toward renewable energy, using rooftop solar and storage.