Governor: LUMA must hand over requested data when court order is ‘final & firm’
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia insisted on Wednesday that LUMA Energy executives must comply with a court order to hand over information to the island House of Representatives once it becomes “final and firm.”
LUMA Energy is the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system, but executives have refused to provide information regarding the names of its main stakeholders or information about the workers. The private operator is being paid with public funds.
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court returned a case to the lower courts following an appeal from LUMA Energy of a House petition to turn over the information.
“As soon as there is a final and firm decision from the courts of justice, LUMA will have to abide by it,” the governor said at a press conference. “There are no exceptions; here we all have to abide by the law. What happens is that [Tuesday’s] decision was not a final and firm decision. What the Supreme Court did was return the case to the Superior Court. Now we have to see what the court … decides. When that case comes to a successful conclusion, LUMA will have to abide by it.”
Pierluisi, nonetheless, said LUMA has no reasons for withholding the information.
“The only reason that from my point of view can have any validity is assuming that they are asking for names, addresses, social security, telephone numbers or private information of the staff, because there I could understand the objection,” he said.
Asked if he is aware that the information requested by the House is in the possession of La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Noelia García Bardales and if he would be willing to publish it, the governor replied “I don’t know how much of that information we have.”
“You are asking me a question that is to a certain extent unfair, because I cannot know all the information that is in all the government files,” Pierluisi said.
As previously reported by the STAR, LUMA Energy President & CEO Wayne Stensby said this week that he will not comply with the order to deliver information requested by the House of Representatives, despite the fact that two motions to avoid that action were denied by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.
“None of the appeal forums ordered LUMA to answer the challenged requirements,” Stensby said in a written statement. “The merits of LUMA’s objections will be elucidated when the case returns to the Superior Court.”
“No company should be forced to reveal the identity and salaries of its employees, business secrets, sensitive information on the operation and infrastructure absent a legitimate legislative objective; furthermore, without complying with applicable laws and due process of law when requesting the information,” he added. “The message this investigation sends is that if the reputation and mission of a company and its employees is to be destroyed for political gain, it will be. This is contrary to the interest of transforming the electrical system.”
Stensby said that means that the case will be returned to the Superior Court, where he hopes he will prevail.
“LUMA puts its employees first. The intimidation, harassment and even property damage to which LUMA employees have been subjected by groups opposed to a better electrical system are against the law,” Stensby said. “LUMA will have the opportunity to raise its defenses and objections when the case resumes before the Superior Court and is confident that justice will prevail.”
The island Supreme Court announced a resolution by which it denied LUMA’s second motion for reconsideration in the appeal Luis Raúl Torres Cruz v. LUMA, CC-2021-0521. The Superior Court did not heed LUMA’s jurisdictional and procedural proposals. Both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court chose not to review those matters at the current stage of the proceedings, and so the case returned to the Superior Court.