Ponce – If the governor’s election prevails, Carlos Delgado Altieri will order that the contract with LUMA Energy to privatize the operation of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) be terminated.
Likewise, the candidate for the Popular Democratic Party stated that he would go to court to challenge the validity of the agreement and the clauses that oblige the government to pay up to $ 50 million in penalties for early and unilateral cancellation.
In this way, Delgado Altieri joins the positions of electoral opponents such as Alexandra Lúgaro Aponte and Juan Dalmau Ramírez, who have publicly rejected the contract agreed by the Public-Private Partnerships Authority to hand over control of the public corporation to LUMA, by the next 15 years. This will cost subscribers about $ 1.5 billion.
Prior to the primarista process last August, Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia also questioned the agreement, but so far he has only recommended renegotiating it.
Delgado Altieri’s opinion came after reading the conclusions of the report presented to him by the advisory committee he appointed on September 7 to evaluate the 336-page contract.
Said committee had the participation of the former director of PREPA, Héctor Rosario Hernández; the union leader Pedro Irene Maymí; and the former secretary of the Department of Labor, Frank Zorrilla Maldonado, among others.
“I received it just yesterday and the recommendation is that it cannot be sustained,” Delgado Altieri said at the end of the second Ponce forum, a series of meetings between candidates for the governorship of Puerto Rico and journalists from WPAB 550 Y The Pearl of the South, where platforms and proposals for the city and the region are discussed.
“You have to collect $ 135 million a year to pay this company. Where is it going to come from? From the Puerto Rican pocket, ”he continued.
“They are talking about an increase of one to 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour and that represents in four years, in which the development plan is established, $ 540 million for that company. That is unacceptable. That contract does not work ”.
“The report’s recommendation is obviously to go to court to challenge the contract. And that is the first step. It’s not paying, ”added the mayor of Isabela, alluding to the penalties stipulated against the Government of Puerto Rico, if it withdraws from the agreement with LUMA.
The contract also grants the private consortium the power to manage over $ 10 billion in federal funds approved for the reconstruction of the country’s electricity grid, after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María in 2017.
“Having the money to reestablish the system and the workforce that knows that system, there is no need for this privatization,” reiterated the applicant.
Conjuncture to “amend mistakes”
For his part, Rolando Emmanuelli Jiménez, legal representative of the Union of Electric and Irrigation Industry Workers (UTIER), welcomed Delgado Altieri’s opinion.
“I am delighted that you have accepted the recommendation of the committee, with which we met and thoroughly discussed the findings of our legal opinion, and it seems to me that it is the best course of action. It is what Puerto Rico needs ”.
“But this has to go hand in hand with a true transformation of the Authority so that it provides energy services in the most reliable and cheap way,” he added. “It is not enough to cancel the contract.”
“This is a great opportunity to make amends for the mistakes that this administration has made to professionalize the Authority’s governance and depoliticize it. Thus, the injection of more than $ 10 billion can be used to concentrate it on projects that generate economic activity for Puerto Rico ”.
He Ponce forum is broadcast tomorrow Saturday at 9:00 in the morning by WPAB 550.