Puerto Rico’s T&D networks set for modernisation

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LUMA Energy has commenced operation and maintenance of Puerto Rico’s electricity transmission and distribution systems.

Under LUMA Energy, a 50-50 joint venture between US infrastructure service provider Quanta Services and ATCO company Canadian Utilities Limited, a major overhaul is envisaged to deliver a modern, secure, resilient and affordable electric grid.

This will be coupled with development of a trained craft-skilled workforce for the future.

LUMA Energy was created as a purpose-built operator for the island territory’s power system, which comprises 29,000km of transmission and distribution assets and suffered significant damage in Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

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The company has a 15-year agreement with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which was awarded following an over year-long competitive process.

PREPA retains ownership of the network assets and ownership and operation of the generation.

“We want to congratulate the teams at LUMA, Quanta and ATCO and the Puerto Rico regulatory authorities, who have worked diligently to ensure the on-time transition of the operations and maintenance of Puerto Rico’s T&D system to LUMA,” said Duke Austin, Quanta’s President and CEO.

LUMA Energy is headquartered in Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, and over the past year has been building its team of professionals.

The company expects to capitalise on the strengths and proven expertise of its world-class organisations to deliver a unique infrastructure solution for Puerto Rico’s electric T&D system, according to a statement.

LUMA will take a tailored approach to the operation of the electric T&D system, with a focus on improved reliability and resiliency to severe weather events through the implementation of emergency preparedness and response plans and the further modernisation of the electric T&D system.

Additionally, LUMA’s owners have committed to fund and open a state-of-the-art line worker and technical training campus in Puerto Rico, to be operated by its accredited postsecondary educational institution, Northwest Lineman College.

Much of the funding for the modernisation programme is expected to come from US federal disaster relief agencies. More than $18 billion of electric T&D capital investment through 2028 has been estimated for the initiative.