• The Star Staff

UTIER asks Pierluisi to detail changes he will make to LUMA-PREPA deal

By The Star Staff

Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym) President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo asked governor-elect Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday to elaborate on the specific changes he will make to the contract signed in June between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and LUMA Energy, the private operator of the utility’s transmission and distribution system.

“The governor-elect said on several occasions while he was campaigning that the contract with LUMA Energy must be modified to guarantee zero rate increases, respect the acquired rights of PREPA employees and their collective [bargaining] agreements, protect the retirement system of PREPA and avoid conflicts of interest in contracting with LUMA Energy subsidiaries,” Figueroa Jaramillo said. “We are asking him to say how he will make these changes and to reaffirm the position to make them.”

The union leader pointed out that under the 15-year contract, which is currently in a transition phase and will go into effect on May 1, LUMA Energy has very little risk. The private manager will own any capital improvements made to the system even though they will be paid for by PREPA through ordinary or federal funds. PREPA has no say in LUMA Energy’s contracting decisions as all contracts will be approved by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau. The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority, which has no expertise in energy topics, is the contract’s manager.

Figueroa Jaramillo stressed that “the UTIER has emphasized in all the forums available to it how disastrous this contract is for the country as it contemplates increases in rates and puts the job stability of PREPA employees at risk.”

“This contract awarded between PREPA, LUMA Energy and the Public-Private Partnerships Authority is radically void, as it is leonine, contrary to the law and public order,” he said.

The UTIER president said he sought a meeting with the governor-elect to discuss the details of the proposed changes to LUMA’s contract and his plan to address the four core points of his position.

“We ask to meet with Mr. Pierluisi so that, contrary to what happened with Governor Wanda Vázquez, the comments that the UTIER, like other interested organizations, have made regarding the LUMA Energy contract are seriously considered,” Figueroa Jaramillo said. “We await the prompt response of the governor-elect on the selection of the date for the meeting.”

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