The energetic transformation must be a leading platform for the development of Puerto Rico. Strengthening the electrical system is a key element to stimulate economic activity in industries, commerce and services, in the way of big, medium-sized and small businesses. It is also essential for the optimization of quality of life.
Many reasons motivate the privatization of crucial components of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The historic deficit in the maintenance of electrical infrastructures. The administrative shortcomings that made way for the huge debt. Management stagnation. All these factors, along with the political parties’ custom of using the public corporation to place supporters and family members, have weakened a system that should operate as a successful public company and render services of unquestionable excellence.
During one of the most challenging hours in Puerto Rican history, just after Hurricane María, the transmission and distribution systems could not come up fast enough to protect families, institutions and the economy.
To avoid future recurrences of that tragic experience, the legislature approved in the preceding term, with bipartisan support, an energetic policy aimed at solving the inefficiency and instability of the electrical system. We agree that privatization is the best option to launch the complex modernization of the vital electrical system.
After the due process of evaluation, led by the Public-Private Partnerships Authority, the government signed a contract with LUMA Energy. As Governor Pedro Pierluisi has stated, Puerto Rico, as a country, has the obligation to honor that contract. Both Pierluisi and Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board, have warned that amending the contract would be unconstitutional. Failing to comply with the requirements of the agreement would bring more damage to the island’s credibility in the markets, a situation that can no longer stand. Postponing implementation would further delay the route towards energetic transformation and create higher costs, both for the government and the people.
The LUMA conglomerate has shown it has what it takes to fulfill the task. The matrix companies have invested $10 million to build a learning center that will provide continuous training to utility workers, according to the best standards of excellence. The company’s owners have expressed their commitment to the economic recovery Puerto Rico needs.
Under the management of LUMA, beginning on June 1st., the electrical system will be able to begin its transformation to renewable sources. On its way to that fundamental change, it will be necessary to use natural gas as a transitional fuel. Experts have said that natural gas, of which the United States has abundant supplies, is cheaper and more eco-friendly than the oil that, sadly, our electrical system still mainly uses.
It is necessary to modernize the PREPA infrastructure for Puerto Rico to be able to move towards a more reliable system, with reasonable and stable costs.
The progress of this transformational process will allow the expansion of renewable sources projects needed to abide by the public policy goals designed to urgently address carbon emissions that accelerate climate change.
The government has the responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in these processes, keeping in mind at all times the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico.
All the other sectors, meanwhile, have the duty of supporting this essential step towards the urgent energetic transformation, which must be the axis for the future development of our country. Providing the system with stability can stimulate investment, allow for the progress of every business sector and give every home a trustworthy electrical supply.