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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Judge orders parties in PREPA bankruptcy to get on with mediation

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain

By The Star Staff

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who is overseeing the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) bankruptcy, ordered parties in a ruling Tuesday to meet and confer promptly with the mediation team to establish a future mediation schedule.

Swain convened a status hearing Monday because PREPA and its creditors have failed to engage in mediation to discuss debt restructuring. She has threatened to dismiss the case if no agreement can be reached to restructure PREPA’s $9 billion debt.

By next Tuesday, May 16, the mediation team must file a schedule for future mediation sessions between the mediation team and the principal mediation parties.

“The Mediation team is directed to include the following information in future mediation reports: the number of completed mediation sessions in the prior month and the number of scheduled further mediation sessions as of the date of the report, whether the participants are attending with empowered principals as required above, whether the participants have made proposals and counter proposals in good faith, and whether any further assistance is needed from the Court,” Swain said.

Meanwhile, LUMA Energy, the private operator of PREPA’s transmission and distribution (T&D) system, has until May 15 to submit its proposed fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget to the energy regulator, according to a resolution issued May 8.

The resolution, issued by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB), approved an extension requested by LUMA to deliver the FY24 budget, since the company indicated that it would not be feasible to meet the original May 8 deadline, according to the document.

In its May 4 motion, LUMA stated that after discussions with Genera PR and the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) and as a result of the incremental work and coordination that would be needed to apply the P3A’s budget allocation determination and produce a consolidated budget proposal that is ripe for review by the PREB, the May 8 filing deadline originally proposed by LUMA was no longer feasible.

Therefore, LUMA requested that the PREB amend the procedural calendar to grant the parties until May 16 to meet, confer and adopt the consolidated FY2024 proposed annual budgets.

Consequently, the PREB established a new schedule to approve LUMA’s budget for the next fiscal year, with the expectation that the spending plan will be approved by June 30, according to the resolution.

LUMA Energy has operated PREPA’s T&D system since June 2021.

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