Resident commissioner chides PREPA over delayed $9.6 billion disbursement
By The Star Staff
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said Monday that of the $9.6 billion allocated to improve electricity service on the island, nothing has been spent and further condemned the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) for skipping a meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to update the status of the procedures for the disbursement and use of the funds to repair the utility’s generation plants four years after hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“I think there are quite a few plans to improve. I want to tell you that … I want that communication to take place; on their part, I am concerned that the Electric Power Authority, LUMA Energy and the P3 [Public-Private Partnership Authority] are in a different place in terms of communication and not necessarily knowing that they have to submit plans to FEMA to obtain disbursement of those funds. What worries me is that of the $9.6 billion allocated, zero has been used to date,” the resident commissioner said at a press conference. “The Electric Power Authority was asked to deliver their information; that date expired on August 30 and they have not yet submitted their information. So that speaks to how little committed the Electric Power Authority could be in making things happen. I believe that everyone agrees that this meeting was necessary; this helps me, in view of the Oct. 6 hearing, to know where we are. The private component is operating at capacity. It is unfortunate that the Electric Power Authority has not arrived, although we summoned them and confirmed their participation.”
González Colón noted that to date, PREPA has not submitted documents to FEMA, which would be in charge of approving the documentation and ordering the disbursement of the $9.6 billion.
“The same thing has happened with the CDBG-DR [Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery] funds for reconstruction for the energy phase -- no disbursements have been made because PREPA has not submitted the information to federal Housing,” the resident commissioner said.