Lawmakers allege conflict of interest by LUMA Energy CEO
By John McPhaul
The island House of Representatives will refer to the commonwealth and federal government, including the U.S. Congress, an alleged conflict of interest on the part of LUMA Energy president & CEO Wayne Stensby, in which he allegedly subcontracts to companies of which he is a shareholder or owner.
Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz, who chairs the House Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy, said Stensby is the owner of a shareholder in the company ATCO Canadian Utilities and administrator of ATCO PR Infrastructure Solutions, companies that LUMA Energy subcontracts for projects.
Torres Cruz alleged that Stensby benefited economically from those contracts made by LUMA Energy.
“What is serious is that the contract that the government gave to LUMA Energy does not prohibit the subcontracting of the parent companies or the affiliated or collateral companies that ATCO and Quanta have in Puerto Rico,” the lawmaker said at a press conference. “Do you think that if Wayne Stensby is the one who is going to award the contract and is also the president of the other subcontracted companies, that they are not going to find a way for them to be the ones to win, if not all, then the vast majority of those contracts? That is a scheme of serious conflict of interest.”
When asked whether the question of conflict of interest applies to a private company like LUMA Energy, House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez said that it does.
“First, the approach [of conflict of interest] has not been made in the court and that is what we are going to do,” Hernández Montañez said. “We are talking about a dispute that has not been adjudicated in court. It would be sad if all the controversies we have raised are adjudicated solely in federal court. Because at the federal level there is not the slightest doubt, do you know why? Because here there are $11 billion in federal funds [for reconstruction of the electrical system] and $2 billion in CDBG-DR funds. So get ready, we are going to the federal forum, we are going to go to the White House, we are going to go to the Senate, we are going to go to the House and this is going to stop, because we cannot continue with such a coarse scheme of corruption. like this one.”
Torres Cruz pointed out that in the process to challenge the contract in court under this and other findings, they could help electric power subscribers to file the lawsuit.
In reaction to the news conference, Stensby did not address the issue of the alleged conflict of interest. In a written statement he stated that “LUMA has replaced 2,000 posts, has connected 18,000 solar panel customers and has taught more than 20,000 hours of safety and technical training courses at the LUMA College for Technical Training.”
The alleged conflict of interest was one of several findings made by the House committee chaired by Torres Cruz. The lawmaker presented a series of recommendations, which in addition to demanding the cancellation of the contract, he orders or recommends that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Public-Private Partnerships Authority submit a joint report to the Legislature on the projections of payment to LUMA Energy and whether they have actually been met, and will be met, with the projected savings through which the LUMA Energy contract would be paid, avoiding increases in the electricity rate.