In June 2020, Puerto Rico’s lawmakers signed a deal with LUMA Energy giving them control over the islands’ electrical grid and power distribution. Since then, LUMA claims it has set out to improve Puerto Rico’s electric system, to ensure it is prepared for any future storms or potential power outages. Supposedly, LUMA has made it its goal to deliver reliable and affordable electricity to all Puerto Ricans, which is why they are currently facing major criticism.
As of June 15, 2022, LUMA has requested to increase customers’ electricity costs by 17.1%. This could be up to a $19.82 monthly increase for Puerto Rico residents, which can significantly affect their daily lives. According to Mario Hurtado, Chief Regulatory Officer and Vice President of LUMA, the global market is responsible for these recent rate increases. Various factors are behind this, including the Ukrainian conflict and other production delays. LUMA officials have stated that there will be assistance for customers who are unable to pay their bills, with the potential of subsidized plans.
However, Puerto Ricans are not happy with LUMA and are blaming it for power outages and expensive electricity. Protestors have stood outside LUMA headquarters, holding signs and speaking out against the privatization of their electricity. Many of them are also concerned that LUMA will not be prepared to cope with the upcoming hurricane season.
There have been many price increases in the past, and Puerto Ricans have still had to face many power outages, causing them to question further price increases. There have also been various protests in recent memory, as Puerto Ricans suffered a significant number of outages. When asked if LUMA was unfairly blamed for power outages, Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi (NPP, D) stated that the company should be communicating better, something he has criticized them for in the past. He added that they had made efforts to improve themselves.