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‘Electric scandal’, thousands of people in Puerto Rico left in the dark | Latino voice | Chicago News

By on October 23, 2021 0


Puerto Rico continues to experience ongoing power outages.

Hurricane Maria only exacerbated existing problems within the island’s obsolete electricity grid in 2017.

Today, its residents are calling attention to a bigger issue: the privatization of Puerto Rico’s power distribution through LUMA Energy, a private electricity company controlling Puerto Rico’s distribution and transmission. .

Luma took control of transmission and distribution from Puerto Rico on June 1, but critics say conditions have only worsened since then, and lawmakers are demanding answers the Associated Press reported.

Protesters took to the streets last week to light up the dark island with cellphones, demanding Puerto Rico officials provide solar power and a cancellation of the island’s 15-year contract with the company. energetic.

The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico asked the private consortium to provide data on the outages and how they were handled. Wayne Stensby, chief executive officer of LUMA, did not comply with the decision to provide the information requested by the House of Representatives.

Marguerite Power, a history professor who focuses on Puerto Rico, Latin America and gender studies at Illinois Tech, says LUMA’s buyout has proven to be flawed and its customers are paying the price with bill increases and loss of resources.

“The company took over in June with grandiose promises to make things better, but in many cases they haven’t improved anything,” Power said. “So unfortunately there are a lot of Puerto Ricans – those with diabetes for example, people have to store their insulin. And those who have bought new refrigerators after the latest blackouts, their refrigerators have still blown, so their food is wasted. [This blackout] is just one lack of respect after another towards the Puerto Rican people.

Jose lopez, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, says his family in Puerto Rico has been without electricity. Lopez said that although Puerto Rico has received $ 1 billion from Congress to fix the electrical issues, there is little sign of where those funds are going.

“In terms of emergency funds, there was a lot of money that was allocated, but never delivered,” Lopez said. “This money was released by the central government, which is an extremely corrupt system. Two years ago the Puerto Rican people rose up and overthrew the government still in power. And the [Puerto Rican government] To say that they are engaging with these companies to improve the livelihoods of Puerto Ricans is a false story. “

Lopez said he does not foresee any changes until Puerto Ricans regain their independence and have the right to control their resources.

“Puerto Ricans are run by a supervisory board where they have no say in government.” He continued. “And the Puerto Rican government is a colonial appendix of the American government. Puerto was declared by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1922 as [its property], meaning the [Puerto Rican government has no will to serve the people.”

“The people in Puerto Rico are still continuing to suffer, “Power said. “And suffer is the correct word to describe what they are experiencing from these electrical outages, which I actually describe as an electrical outrage, not just an outage because our [power grid] has not been repaired. [Power outages in Puerto Rico] have occurred since Hurricane Maria.

Richard Negrin, vice president of external affairs for ComEd in Chicago, led his team to provide emergency power in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Negrin said Puerto Rico’s power grid never recovered after the hurricane and hundreds of ComEd employees had to rebuild the power source, which he said “did not happen “.

“You have generations of neglect, a lack of resources and maintenance,” he said. “The electrical network is a living organism. If you don’t build and work on it and give it the care it needs, it dies over time. So you have this aging infrastructure in Puerto Rico.

Along with aging infrastructure that needs to be upgraded, Power suggested that in order to provide Puerto Rico with solar power, private organizations should not control the island’s distribution and transmission line.

“Civic organizations, the people on the ground who are ready to make sure their neighbors, families and communities get solar power, should be [in control],” she said.