Delgado Altieri commits to canceling LUMA-PREPA pact if elected
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Referring to LUMA Energy’s closing agreement to manage the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system for 15 years, Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Carlos Delgado Altieri said Monday that he believes the contract was “signed under false pretenses and will make electric power service more expensive,” and as governor of Puerto Rico he will cancel it.
Flanked by members of the committee he appointed to evaluate the agreement -- Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union spokesperson Pedro Pérez and Insular Union of Industrial and Electrical Construction Workers (UITICE by its Spanish initials) Vice President Miguel Cruz, along with UITICE spokespersons Víctor Castellano and David Rivera -- Delgado said that in order to have a resilient, efficient and up-to-date electrical grid, the government must be “careful and prudent as the economic and fiscal destabilization that we are experiencing cannot be used to make decisions lightly that would take us to something negative.”
Delgado added that he wants to propel PREPA into the future by cutting its dependence on fossil fuel in favor of generating power from sources such as solar, wind, ocean currents, wave motion or geothermal energy.
“It is unacceptable that [PREPA] employees are being removed and retirees who have offered and offered their services for years in PREPA are being stripped of their pensions,” the candidate said. “Not only would it represent a tragedy for more than 15,000 Puerto Rican families, but it would also have a multiplying impact on our economy.”
Delgado said his determination to scrap PREPA’s contract with LUMA is based largely on the minimum cost of maintaining the agreement, which in four years would be $540 million that LUMA would obtain through a rate increase, when the cost of electricity in Puerto Rico is already widely regarded as too high.
The Isabela mayor said canceling the agreement within the initial period would cost between $50 million and $80 million, an amount that can be minimized, he said, “by anticipating the cancellation of the contract.”
“To this, we must add the negative social cost for the almost 6,000 employees who will lose their rights and the almost 11,000 retirees who could lose their pensions,” Delgado said. “The improvements that are expected to be made through the LUMA contract will cost the people of Puerto Rico a minimum of $2 billion in 15 years, plus reimbursable expenses.”
Therefore, the PDP president said, it is urgent that PREPA’s infrastructure be transformed now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has allocated $12.804 billion for recovery and reconstruction projects in PREPA and the island Department of Education. He said he will appoint an ad hoc group composed of the “best Puerto Rican professionals, selected from the academy [and] professional associations, [and including] retirees and employees of PREPA and young graduates of our public and private universities.”
Candidate responds to La Comay controversy
As for Delgado’s position on the recent controversy over puppeteer Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa’s use of a doctored photo of Citizen Victory Movement gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro’s underage daughter in a manner that sexualized the girl in the TV program “La Comay,” the candidate said Santarrosa’s actions are intolerable because “family is family -- they must be protected and it has nothing to do with political matters.”
However, when asked if part of the issue could be that the photo was used as an attack against Lúgaro for being a woman in the political realm, Delgado said that while he didn’t see the offense as “an attack on her [Lúgaro] for being a woman, it was a misuse of the production of that photo, but I cannot describe the intention …”
As for appearing on the program for an interview, as he has done before, Delgado said he would appear on any program when he is invited because it gives him a forum as a candidate to present his proposals.
“When it comes to that, I can’t assume actions of trying to restrict what it is public speech,” he said. “That’s what he does on his program. I appear to be interviewed, like on any other program.”