August 5, 2021

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The president of the Energy Bureau is accused of being "judge and party" in the privatization of PREPA

The Union of Electrical and Irrigation Industry Workers ( Utier ) imputed the president of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau to be "judge and party" in the selection of the LUMA Energy consortium as the privatizer of the Electric Power Authority ( AEE ), for which reason he demanded his resignation.

Avilés joined the committee that established the Authority for Public-Private Partnerships (P3 , in English) to evaluate the proposals of the competitors. Unlike the concessions of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and the José de Diego highway (PR-22), in which members of the private sector participated in the selection, this committee was only made up of government figures.

In the In the case of Avilés, his participation was in the capacity of a public official expert in energy.

Likewise, last Wednesday –and in a majority vote–, the Bureau issued an Energy Compliance Certificate to the contract for privatize PREPA's transmission, distribution and customer service systems, which concentrate 80% of the employees of the public corporation.

By law, the Bureau has to issue an Energy Compliance Certificate for any PREPA transaction, in order to guarantee that it complies with the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act and its regulatory framework. In this case, the Bureau determined that the clauses and conditions of the privatization contract comply with the provisions of Law 120-2018 and Law 17-2019 .

On Official announcement of the selection of LUMA, a US-Canadian consortium made up of the companies Quanta Services, ATCO and IEM, was made the day before yesterday, Monday.

"The President of the Bureau has to resign because he was a judge and part in the secret process, ”said the president of the Utier, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo in his account on the social network Twitter, reiterating the allegations of lack of transparency and public participation in the selection process of LUMA.

"(Avilés) participated in the evaluation of LUMA and then sat down to approve the contract," added the union leader.

Questioned about it, Avilés rejected any accusation of irregularities, and stressed that both the work of the committee of Selection as the Bureau were governed by the applicable norms.

“The committee evaluated the capacity and quality of the proponents. It was not only the economic aspect, but the capacity to render the service that is being delegated. P3 established rules and the committee evaluated each of the proponents, they were given some numbers and, according to the voting, the winner was selected, "he said in an interview with El Nuevo Día .

On the approval of the contract, he said that Law 120-2018 gave the Bureau 30 days to make the evaluation and make a decision. In order to streamline the process, added Avilés, a year and a half ago, the regulatory body established an agreement of understanding with P3 to analyze the "initial draft contracts" that were received .

"Those drafts were evaluated by the plenary of the Bureau, and we made sure (among other things) that they had no provision affecting our jurisdiction, "said Avilés, explaining that the Bureau is empowered by law to establish agreements of understanding.

" We have invested in everything necessary to ensure that the transaction is in accordance with the legal framework and that, under no circumstances, does it affect our powers and jurisdiction, "he highlighted.

The contract between PREPA and LUMA will be 15 years, a cost of $ 1,500 million.

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