PREPA union calls for resignation of governing board

By John McPhaul

Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym), the principal union representing Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) workers, asked Tuesday for the resignation of Ralph Kreil, chairman of the PREPA governing board, and of all the other members appointed by the Puerto Rico government, for endorsing all the decisions and actions taken by outgoing PREPA chief José Ortiz.

Ortiz resigned from his post effective today following blackouts in various parts of the island before, during and after last week’s passage of Tropical Storm Isaias.

“The chairman of the Governing Board, Ralph Kreil had the gall to tell the people of Puerto Rico that he is grateful and satisfied with the work that José Ortiz did, but what job is he talking about?” Figueroa Jaramillo said in a written statement. “Giving million-dollar contracts to private companies knowing that there were cheaper options? Giving a contract of $1.5 billion to Luma to come to manage $18 billion in federal funds and raise the rate on the people? Blatantly lying to the people of Puerto Rico? Is the president of the Governing Board proud of that work? Well, if so, you also have to resign. PREPA needs a transformation, but by maintaining it and those who endorsed José Ortiz’s decisions, it cannot be achieved.”

Figueroa Jaramillo insisted that the transformation needed at PREPA must start with those who are directing it.

“Removing José Ortiz, but leaving Ralph Kreil and all the other members appointed by the government does nothing because the engineer Kreil and the Governing Board endorsed all the decisions that José Ortiz made,” the union leader said.

Figueroa Jaramillo contended that “[t]he only member who was always on the side of the people is Tomás Torres Placa, consumer representative on the Board.”

“He is the only one who deserves to stay; the others have to resign,” he said. “We must transform PREPA’s governance model, something UTIER has repeated on countless occasions. We cannot let them continue to command PREPA because you know that José Ortiz and Ralph Kreil are the same. They are the same who believe in giving million-dollar contracts, who believe in the privatization of PREPA, who believe in rate increases for the people. We cannot let them continue to be in command of the Electric Power Authority.”

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