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Luma Energy begins servicing Puerto Rican power and utilities, privatizing island’s grid

June 02, 2021

NBC News: 

A private company on Tuesday took over the transmission and distribution operations of Puerto Rico’s power authority, which has struggled with blackouts and bankruptcy, corruption and mismanagement.

The takeover by Luma Energy under a 15-year contract coincided with the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, with many across Puerto Rico worried about the transition and whether the new company can handle a severe storm. The U.S. territory is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, which destroyed most of the power grid in September 2017.

“It is extraordinarily fragile and in very poor condition,” warned Wayne Stensby, CEO of Luma, a consortium made up of Calgary, Alberta-based Atco and Quanta Services Inc. of Houston.

However, Stensby said the company, which will serve all of the island’s roughly 1.5 million clients, has enough resources to handle a Category 2 hurricane and can bring in more equipment and workers if a stronger storm hits.

The agreement approved by the territory’s government and a federal control board calls for Luma to spend billions of dollars in upgrading the battered system — with most of that money coming from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency — while receiving hundreds of millions of dollars for managing the system.

More: In Puerto Rico, private company takes over power utility service

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