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LUMA Reaches Deal with Union to Complete Federally Funded Projects

By: José Alvarado Vega | June 23, 2021

LUMA Energy LLC announced Tuesday it reached a project labor agreement (PLA) with Local No. 222 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for all contracts mainly involving federally funded major construction projects involving the transformation of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.

A year ago, the government of Puerto Rico and LUMA entered into a public-private partnership agreement to operate the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) transmission and distribution (T&D) system and utility customer services.

After a transition of 11 months, LUMA took over these operations on June 1. In September of last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) obligated $9.7 billion to transform, strengthen and modernize the island’s power grid.

In a press release issued Tuesday, LUMA said that it would begin work on about $3 billion in projects by the third quarter of this year, with additional projects “advancing rapidly thereafter.” These projects will ensure “Puerto Ricans have a reliable, resilient, and sustainable electric system that supports economic growth and the well-being of all island residents.”

LUMA affirmed that it would work together with IBEW to ensure the availability of skilled, efficient craft workers to construct these projects. According to the press release, the PLA provides for labor and management cooperation; ensures local participation in the economic benefits generated by these projects; stabilizes wages, hours, and working conditions for workers on the projects; and prohibits strikes and lockouts.

“Through this partnership with the IBEW, we will help ensure that projects are completed on schedule and budget. This agreement will ensure safe work conditions and high-quality standards for our labor force,” LUMA President and CEO Wayne Stensby said in a statement, stressing that the IBEW line personnel are “the best trained in the world,” and have been building and restoring the electrical transmission and distribution grid for over 125 years.

“We are pleased to have a world-class organization like the IBEW as part of the transformation efforts that will bring forth a modern, reliable electric power system to all Puerto Ricans,” Stensby said.

Lonnie Stephenson, International President of the IBEW, said that union members have been building and restoring the electrical transmission and distribution grid for over 125 years.

“With this agreement, IBEW line personnel, who are the best trained in the world, will be part of the transformation of Puerto Rico’s electric grid,” Stephenson said. “This is the work we are passionate about.”

Stensby said that the agreement with IBEW “further strengthens LUMA’s commitment to the development of Puerto Rico’s skilled electrical workforce,” recalling that LUMA broke ground last April on the LUMA College for Technical Training in Canóvanas, a $10 million facility for on-island, industry-leading curriculum, training and career opportunities for utility workers and the next generation of the island’s skilled workforce. He said that the college is “a world-class curriculum and best in class instructors prepare utility workers in Puerto Rico to build, maintain and operate the electrical grid safely.”

“LUMA is focused on transforming the transmission and distribution system for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans,” he said. “This agreement allows LUMA to continue with our plan of meaningful sector transformation while putting people first,” said Stensby.

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