Lawmakers Look to Luma Energy for Answers to Puerto Rico’s Power Crisis

Lead Photo: Photo by Mary Baratto
Photo by Mary Baratto
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Puerto Rico continues to be crippled by a broken electrical grid. What’s worse, the situation isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. At present hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican residents continue to be affected by blackouts and longer than normal restoration times. This as the cost of power has gone up a reported 50%. 

The most recent outages come at the hands of Luma Energy. The private company took over the distribution of electricity in June for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The move was part of the power grid’s partial privatization. The company however has been under fire recently as the territory has been experiencing widespread blackouts.

Several key factors are at play in this latest crisis for the island. First, the power grid was built over 60 years ago. Add to that the numerous tropical storms and hurricanes that have battered the island, most notably Hurricane Maria in 2017.  Since then the power authority has struggled to supply electricity. Making a terrible situation even worse is mismanagement inside the institution that led to much-needed money for repairs going to waste. 

Fast forward to today, Congress is now seeking answers from Luma Energy. Answers that otherwise would be available publicly but for one reason or another are not. 

Lawmakers are looking to see the reason behind the worsening power supply. 

Last week the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to Luma Energy CEO Wayne Stensby requesting information on compensation packages and titles of workers with a salary of over $200,000 per year, the number of experienced workers, and other key information. 

That was after Stensby outright refused to give answers or gave incomplete answers to similar questions posed in a congressional hearing by the committee last week. 

Luma Energy isn’t just ignoring Congress either. House of Representatives member and head of the energy commission Luis Raúl Torres Cruz sued Luma Energy recently in an effort to get much of the same information. Luma Energy’s response was to appeal in court.