Governor vows to review legal analysis that casts doubt on Luma contract
By The Star Staff
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has promised the Alliance of Active Employees and Retirees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to evaluate the legal analysis prepared by bankruptcy lawyer Rolando Emmanuelli Jiménez that concludes the contract with LUMA Energy to manage PREPA’s transmission and distribution system is invalid because it goes against local laws.
“At the meeting, we were listening to concerns having to do with collective agreements, acquired rights and, above all, the biggest concern that everyone has is the Retirement System,” the governor said at a press conference late Monday. “We are going to examine that opinion they [expressed on] the contract and we want to make sure that all rights are guaranteed.”
The contract states that LUMA Energy will interview PREPA workers and decide which to keep along with imposing its own labor conditions, even though the workers are represented by the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym).
Vázquez said that although the contract was already signed, it allows for amendments that must be discussed and accepted by the LUMA consortium.
However, that is not the case. While LUMA can seek amendments to the budget and to performance metrics, the contract says that “neither this agreement nor any provision hereof may be changed, modified, amended or waived, except by written agreement duly executed by the Parties.”
“Any such amendment shall not be effective until (i) to the extent required by Applicable Law, approved by PREB [the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau] and the FOMB [the Financial Oversight and Management Board] (if then in existence) and (ii) Administrator has obtained a Tax Opinion and a Reliance Letter, at the cost of Owner or Administrator, with respect to any such amendment,” the contract states.
UTIER President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo said “[a]nd from the point of view of the people, this contract has many clauses that benefit the private company and that make it a leonine contract, as the lawyers say.”
In supporting the contention that the contract is illegal, Emmanuelli Jiménez established that it was submitted to the PREB under “a limitation of powers” and the public and the press were not notified.
“We found out that there was a technical conference where the contract was discussed and then it was given confidentiality,” the attorney said. “If they had allowed us to participate, we would have said, right from the start, that upon receiving that contract that it does not comply with Law 120 in terms of the labor rights of employees of the Electric Power Authority because there is a contradiction in