The Right of Electric Service In Puerto Rico

The Right of Electric Service In Puerto Rico

For four consecutive years, the citizens of Puerto Rico have lived with a shortage of electricity, affecting their daily activities.  Some direct impacts include the need to discard certain medicines and food due to lack of refrigeration or the continuous absence of children and young people in virtual classes.  Moreover, thousands of merchants and workers live in constant uncertainty because they do not know if tomorrow, their work tools, from refrigerators to computers, will work due to sudden blackouts.  Most of the deaths related to the aftermath of Hurricane María are attributed to the lack of medical treatment dependent on electrical power.  Post-Hurricane María, thousands of citizens have marched throughout October 2021.  These marches protest the Government’s response to the lack of electrical power and LUMA Energy’s departure.  Since June 2021, LUMA Energy has been the private company responsible for almost the entire country’s electrical system.

There are many concerns, including the one based on the excessive salaries of LUMA Energy executives.   Another is that LUMA Energy has fired or transferred most of the 5,000 employees of the former Electric Power Authority.   The constant blackouts, to which the Island has been exposed after the transfer of all the electric service of Puerto Rico to LUMA Energy, is another concern.  In addition, there is much secrecy in terms of contractual agreement clauses and benefits between the Puerto Rico Government and LUMA.  The Puerto Rico legislature, the courts on the Island, and the U.S. Congress have requested reports and information from LUMA’s executives. LUMA’s executives have systematically refused to deliver that information, which is supposed to go public employing the contract signed between the company and the Government.  Ironically, the company fell into a breach of contract on several known procedures (not raising the service cost, reporting improvements, and providing transparency in internal operations).

“Electric power is a right, not a privilege. The idea is that people can access the services they need to protect their life, health, and dignity.  The privatization of electricity services constitutes a gross contradiction to what the country needs,” said Juan Rosario, Executive Director of AMANESER 2025, one of Global Ministries’ Partners in Puerto Rico. “As climate change continues affecting our well-being, people need to protect themselves from the effects of hurricanes and droughts.  I can’t envision our electric company swelling the coffers of rich and powerful people, while the poor and needy on the Island do not have a service that meets their needs,” he added.

The Puerto Rico Council of Churches and its member denominations, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico and the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico, have signed statements and accompanied the marches regarding the questionable practices of LUMA Energy and the unbearable conditions of the said contract.  AMANESER 2025, for its part, continues to promote community organization and installation of solar emergency power systems in more than ten municipalities in Puerto Rico.  They also continue educating and advocating for a sustainable energy policy on the Island.

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