Business Manager: Sean W. Daly
IBEW Skills, Expertise Key to Rebuilding Puerto Rico Grid
IBEW's skill and experience are critical to the Biden administration’s efforts to remake the electric grid in Puerto Rico.
Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has visited Puerto Rico four times, most recently in late March. She met with IBEW members, including Orlando, Fla. Local 222 Business Manager Bill Hitt and Local 787 Business Manager Joel Flores Cruz, who represent hundreds of members, including lineworkers working to modernize the island’s transmission and distribution system, which has been devastated by hurricanes in recent years.
The Energy Department is allocating $1 billion to address aging infrastructure and improve resilience for the electric grid, to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050. IBEW members are at the forefront of the transition to renewable energy, with training that allows them to work on various projects, including wind, solar, and battery storage.
“Secretary Granholm wanted our perspective on how to make the process easier for contractors to receive the funding,” said Lorraine Llauger, IBEW Fifth District international representative, who attended the small group discussion with Hitt and Cruz.
IBEW members said they are intensifying efforts to organize and train a high-quality workforce, giving thousands of Puerto Ricans a pathway to the middle class while raising wage and benefit standards for workers throughout the island.
Local 222 represents more than half of the lineworkers at LUMA, Puerto Rico’s utility, and is actively recruiting more. Membership in the IBEW has more than doubled the wages and benefits for its members and significantly raised the bar on professional skills standards there.
In the year following IBEW’s partnership with LUMA, the citizens of Puerto Rico have experienced 30 percent fewer power outages.
IBEW Fifth District Vice President Brian Thompson has actively organized efforts in Puerto Rico.
“We have the chance to change millions of lives and reset the future,” Thompson said. “It's worth any difficulty to make this work. And we are not done yet."