PDP lawmakers rip proposed P3 for PREPA plants as repeat of ‘blank check’ LUMA contract
Rep. Sol Higgins Cuadrado
By THE STAR STAFF
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia expects Puerto Rico residents to accept a contract that would put the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) generation plants under private management without knowing first whether the transaction benefits them, several lawmakers charged over the weekend.
Popular Democratic Party Reps. Jesús Manuel Ortiz González, José “Cheito” Rivera Ortiz, Héctor Ferrer Santiago, Ramón Luis Cruz Burgos, Sol Higgins Cuadrado, Juan José Santiago Nieves, Estrella Martínez Soto, Jorge Alfredo Rivera Segarra, Domingo Torres García, Orlando Aponte Rosario, Eladio “Layito” Cardona Quiles, Kebin Maldonado Martiz, Jessie Cortés Ramos, Jocelyne Rodríguez Negrón and Deborah Soto Arroyo criticized the governor’s actions.
They said the government has not learned from the experience that resulted from LUMA Energy managing the power utility’s transmission and distribution system. LUMA has been criticized over what some say is its deficient performance as a private operator.
“The Pedro Pierluisi government abandoned the country to its fate by not monitoring the LUMA contract, and we already know the result of that government’s inaction on the electrical system and on people’s quality of life,” the lawmakers stated. “Now they intend to do the same with PREPA’s generation [assets] without making public details about the contract, workers’ rights, plans to transition to renewable energy sources, without information about the cost of the contract for Puerto Rico and its possible impact on fees. Puerto Rico cannot accept another blank check like the one [given to] LUMA.”
The majority legislators warned that the government cannot repeat the mistakes resulting from the LUMA contract’s “leonine clauses” and “much less the ordeal PREPA employees and customers have had to live with.”
Energy customers have had to deal with an electrical system “in poor condition and managed by a company that could not provide proper service while utility bills increase,” they said.
“Therefore, it is necessary to know that the government will protect the rights of current Authority employees and that they will not be adversely affected,” they said.
The lawmakers noted there is a direct relationship between the quality of life in Puerto Rico and energy service. Citizens cannot afford to wait for the contract’s approval to learn its details and its impact on families, they said.
“Puerto Rico needs a modern, resilient electrical system, suitable for renewable energy sources and at an affordable price, but without sacrificing access to information and accountability, and without the wholesale delivery of our heritage.”
The lawmakers made their comments after Pierluisi said it was very likely that the Public-Private Partnership Authority (P3A) board would approve the proposed public-private partnership for power generation last Friday.
The P3A board is one the entities whose approval is required for the proposed contract to move forward, the governor said.
He also said negotiations with the proposed operator of the legacy power plants are underway. Citing sources, the STAR reported that it was a consortium headed by New Fortress Energy called Encanto Power.