• The San Juan Daily Star

FEMA backs resident commissioner’s claim that PREPA has not filed for disbursement of funds

By John McPhaul

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Wednesday that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has not requested any reimbursement from the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience for expenses incurred in projects for the transformation of the island’s electricity system.

In a letter explaining the process for granting funds, FEMA indicated that at the moment there are 77 PREPA projects shown on its portal to formulate projects and perform all the functions required for approval.

“For these [projects] to pass to the FEMA evaluation phase, however, PREPA must first provide the scope of work where it is further detailed how the [projects] will be carried out,” said FEMA’s director of external affairs in Puerto Rico, Juan Andrés Muñoz Torres.

Once the scopes of work are received, Muñoz Torres said, “from there, the agency assesses that all federal environmental and historical resource conservation laws are met.”

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón also insisted Tuesday that PREPA has not submitted the work plan for FEMA to disburse the $9.6 billion for the energy reconstruction of Puerto Rico.

“It is correct that [PREPA] has filed 74 projects that I think are for grants, right, limited,” González Colón said on Facebook. “But one thing is to submit a grant for a little project and another thing is to submit the scroll of work, that is, the entire plan to use the $9.6 billion that FEMA issued so that there can be a disbursement.”

González Colón was reacting to remarks made by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia earlier on Tuesday that the resident commissioner was mistaken and that PREPA had submitted proposals for projects totalling $4.7 billion.

“As I said yesterday, the Electric Power Authority has filed zero scope of work [documents]. Zero,” she said. “It is one thing to submit 74 projects to be pre-authorized, but that is not for the disbursement, that is to start and be a scroll of work at the end. Today, there is no FEMA-based work plan for the $ 9.6 billion. Zero. I’m not saying it, the director of FEMA in Puerto Rico [José Baquero] himself says it. And the numbers are on the FEMA page.”

“It is enough that the Authority has excuses every day that a boiler went out, that it was not maintained, that we do not have the capacity for degeneration,” González Colón said. “In 2012 there was more demand for energy and more energy generation than now, which is much less and that the Authority cannot cope with.”

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