New York Attorney General Letitia James today urged federal authorities to investigate the energy situation in Puerto Rico, and the energy provider LUMA Energy, LLC. James noted that five years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, and after billions of federal dollars were spent to modernize and strengthen the islands’ electrical grid, residents continue to endure frequent outages and high electrical rates. These issues were exacerbated by the impact of Hurricane Fiona, which caused an islandwide blackout. Millions of Puerto Rico residents continue to be without power.
“While I fully support relief efforts underway to help Puerto Rico, I am convinced that we need long-term structural support for the island, not just band aids that take us from one crisis to the next,” said Attorney General James. “One of these structural challenges is the power grid and the electrical supply Puerto Ricans rely on for basic necessities. Puerto Ricans are rightly concerned about the failures of LUMA, the island’s electric supplier. I am calling for a federal investigation into LUMA and for critical upgrades and system improvements so that Puerto Ricans are never again left in the dark. Together, we must continue to fight for long-term fixes to stabilize and strengthen Puerto Rico and stand in solitary with our brothers and sisters on the island.”
The letter from Attorney General James was sent to United States Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Richard Glick, urging them to review the situation and ensure LUMA Energy is held accountable for providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to the people of Puerto Rico. Attorney General James raised the concern that the cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour in Puerto Rico is approximately double the US national average, which is a substantial burden for the average household in Puerto Rico, where more than 40 percent live in poverty.
Attorney General James noted that the challenges and problems with LUMA Energy extend beyond the company’s failings in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. Several examples of major issues Puerto Rican ratepayers have endured include:
- A fire at LUMA’s Monacillo substation in June 2021 resulted in a loss of service to 900,000 customers.
- A territory-wide outage in April 2022 impacted 1.5 million people after a fire at one of LUMA’s largest power plants, the Costa Sur power plant.
- Two significant blackouts this past August, one of which impacted nearly 20 percent of customers and resulted in a 25 percent loss in power generation.
All of these issues are especially disturbing following the significant investment the federal government made in the Puerto Rican electrical grid following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Attorney General James flagged all of these issues and raised concerns about LUMA’s planning, preparation, and investment, and urged these three federal leaders to hold LUMA accountable for providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to the people of Puerto Rico.