IEEFA, CAMBIO win court petition to get PREPA privatization documents
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Puerto Rican nonprofit CAMBIO obtained a court agreement pledging the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to respond to and deliver within 14 days public documents regarding the PREPA privatization process, as well as data about the electrical system.
The agreement between the parties was reached in the courtroom of San Juan Superior Court Judge Anthony Cuevas-Ramos. On Friday, the judge responded to the mandamus petition presented by CAMBIO and IEEFA to receive information that they had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain from PREPA since February 2019.
After listening to opening statements, Cuevas-Ramos emphasized that access to public information is a constitutional right and that it is the government’s responsibility to be transparent and to provide documents that citizens request.
He subsequently declared a recess and invited the parties to discuss making the information public.
CAMBIO Founder Ingrid M. Vila-Biaggi, with her attorneys Judith Berkan and Mary Jo Méndez, met and reached some agreements with the attorneys representing PREPA, Fernando Fornaris and Katiuska Bolanos of Cancio Nadal, as well as PREPA’s Legal Director Astrid Rodríguez-Cruz.
“It was a very productive hearing. The judge was extremely clear on the importance of making public documents accessible to citizens and that the documents must be made available to all,” said Vila-Biaggi.
“The judge urged us to reach an agreement and define the delivery dates of the requested documents precisely,” she said.
As part of the agreement, they requested documents from Jan. 1, 2018 to the present related to the privatization as well as recent data related to the electrical grid. The parties agreed that by June 7, PREPA would respond to the entire information request, indicate whether they possess the requested documentation and, if so, produce it.
“Today’s agreement is a very positive step, now we have to see what documents are delivered,” said Vila-Biaggi, adding that for months, the organizations had submitted formal petitions requesting public documents and data from PREPA but had been unable to obtain any response.
Cathy Kunkel of IEEFA said, “access to the public documentation of PREPA is fundamental in order to evaluate the impact of the decisions that are being made.”
In their mandamus petition filed with the court, CAMBIO and IEEFA called for specific information regarding any cost-benefit studies that has been carried out to justify the proposed transmission and distribution system concession, as well as documents related to generation proposals, among others.
After providing testimony for the record on the agreements for each information request presented, Cuevas-Ramos scheduled a hearing for June 25 to go over the results of the document delivery process.