Over 5,000 PREPA Customers Remain Without Power Due To Breakdowns

The Head of Technical Operations of the Electric Power Authority, Carlos Alvarado, confirmed that over 5,000 clients of the public corporation remain without service this morning.

According to the official, a good part of these clients are without power by a feeder that left operations at the Río Cañas substation in Caguas.

Alvarado said it was partially repaired, so 10% of the feeder is still out of operation, leaving about 823 customers without power.

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“Also in the Bayamón TC substation a feeder suffered a breakdown that was reflected in the discharge of the substation and took it out of service,” he explained. Given that, 4,164 customers remain without electricity in this area.

The engineer explained that earlier another feeder broke down at a substation in Fajardo, leaving hundreds of other customers without service.

However, this situation has already been corrected and customers must already have the return service. On the other two faults, the official said that this morning they will be solved.

Alvarado stressed that these failures are being treated, mostly, with management personnel because the wardens of the Union of Workers of the Electrical and Irrigation Industry (Utier) remain unemployed.

According to the engineer, this situation has been extended for almost a month due to the blockade between PREPA and the union due to a salary increase for the wardens.

Although the public corporation agreed to an increase of 15%, the Utier rejected the proposal, so they are still negotiating.

However, according to the official, the Insular Union of Industrial Workers and Electrical Construction (Uitice) agreed to the proposed increase.

"PREPA offered a 10% and 15% increase and that is at the negotiating table, they are in a situation that is not accepting that proposal, the authority has always been in the dialogue," Alvarado said.

Given this panorama, the engineer explained that the management personnel who are assuming that responsibility are those who were once guardians and had field work.

“We have some shifts in the service offices and in the different technicians that we don't have the full staff. We covered those shifts with the same employees in extra shifts, but now those shifts are not covering it, ”he said.

The official agreed that due to this situation, PREPA's response time to breakdowns is affected, but said they work so that the impact is minimal.

“Managers and other unions are committed to maintaining the system, with maintaining service to our customers, including Utier staff. We do have a sector with a claim, but we must put the service before the claims, ”he said.

Precisely, the Utier celebrated this week that the Senate and the House gave way to a project that gives the wardens the accident license, one of the main claims in their union struggle. The measure is awaiting the signature of Governor Wanda Vázquez.

The Utier reacts

For his part, the president of the Utier, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, said that PREPA "is not doing" anything to avoid the exodus of wardens in the authority and indicated that they are still looking for alternatives to reach a fair agreement between both parties.

According to the union leader, of 1,200 professionals of this type in 200, at the moment the public corporation has about 600.

"This situation demonstrates the ineptitude of the engineer Alvarado who has to sustain the operation paying overtime proving that he has a lack of personnel and preventive maintenance in the plants," he denounced while saying that the authority has been in this practice for five years.

He also noted that the Utier warned PREPA on several occasions about the need to attend to the retention of the wardens, but they have not been successful.

On what stage of the process they are in, Jaramillo said they were as recent as they were today, but have not yet reached an agreement.

"Today, they have just submitted a 'manly' letter trying to tell the country that we are in an impasse, that we are not looking for alternatives. We are looking for alternatives, I have kept in communication since Friday with the secretary of the Interior, "he defended.

Jaramillo also condemned that the authority emphasizes that they reached an agreement with the Uitice, because, according to him, the unions serve employees with different tasks.

"The partners of the Uitice do not work on live lines, they do not have operational knowledge. Therefore, they have different responsibilities than ours," he said.

A line warden in PREPA charges $ 20 to $ 21 per hour, a smaller amount than in the United States where these professionals charge between $ 42 and $ 43.

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