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Pictured: LUMA headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico with picket signs hung on the entrance.
Puerto Rico's power utility has failed its citizens repeatedly, but they believe a solution is forthcoming. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images.

Puerto Rico’s power utility unveils new initiative to overhaul current services

The press conference was held by Quanta Services execs, one of LUMA’s parent companies. LUMA reps were not in attendance

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This week, Quanta Services, LUMA’s parent company, held a press conference to unveil a new initiative to tackle the onslaught of blackouts that have left Puerto Rican homes in darkness for days on end. The announcement follows the peak of political criticisms from high-profile officials on the island and in the U.S. 

The Reduction and Response to Interruptions Initiative (IRRI, in Spanish) will be headed by five individuals, two of them engineers, who will evaluate management teams, though no details were given during the release.

“We’ve made mistakes. We acknowledge our shortcomings and will make the necessary adjustments to satisfy the expectation of the island’s inhabitants,” said Earl Austin, president of Quanta Services. 

No jurisdiction in the world is immune to service interruptions, but we can do it and will improve,” he added. 

Although no details surrounding the initiative were offered, Austin confirmed that Kathy Roure would oversee its implementation. Roure previously worked for the island’s previous utility, PREPA, in its customer service center and today serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for LUMA. 

“I don’t have the experience but I’ll have a team, and they will inform me. And the communication with the [people] of Puerto Rico will be more effective,” she said while adding the initiative efforts are designed to ensure a team is dedicated to addressing outages. 

She went on to say that “[IRRI] is a specific action plan designed to reduce the frequency and duration of service interruptions.”

Roure, who is also affiliated with right-wing political groups, said the initiative will improve services by 20%. She did not address what the 20% would pertain to or address. 

Wayne Stensby, LUMA’s top executive was not in the press conference, and no further details were offered to the press regarding his involvement in the initiative. When local press questioned whether or not the initiative considered his current role, Austin said that “Wayne is still in the building today at the same capacity he was yesterday,” while he shifted the conversation towards possible management changes. 

“With relation to what we’re doing with management, we’re evaluating teams, evaluating strategies and we’ll continue to place the best staff in the world here, in Puerto Rico,” he said. 

“Wayne is a knowledgeable person to administrate utility systems. We all have our pitfalls. Wayne recognizes he has shortcomings and we’re trying to be better. United we’ll go far, we all have to look in the mirror,” the Quanta Services exec told the press. 

Dozens of unexpected blackouts left clients scrambling. Puerto Rico hospitals faced a precarious situation after a series of outages rendered their generators powerless. 

Since its inception, Puerto Ricans have observed worsening service across all levels of infrastructure. A preliminary report found that LUMA took 50% more time to adequately respond to said interruptions. 

The initiative follows a tumultuous year and a half for LUMA, as they become the subject of increased scrutiny for poor service since they took the helm of Puerto Rico’s power utility in 2021. 

“It is obvious to me that [LUMA] must make changes in their plan of execution to improve the service they offer our people significantly,” said Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. 

Ahead of the press conference, Pierluisi confirmed he was not privy to internal negotiations as the initiative was contemplated. 

“They must take the necessary measures to improve. I’ve always been very clear about what I want to see. Any management changes are LUMA’s decision, and we’ll know when they give the press conference,” Pierluisi said. 

He denied claims of candidates whose names have floated in the capitol building to replace Stensby, as reported by local outlets. 
 

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