PREPA pushes back against court-agreed document turnover, defendants say
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority attempted to go back on the agreement it had reached with nonprofit organization CAMBIO and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) to deliver public documents related to utility’s, as well as electrical system data, by June 7, the nonprofits said.
Six days after making this commitment, PREPA filed a motion for dismissal of the agreement on May 30 in the San Juan Superior Court, where Judge Anthony Cuevas Ramos denied the motion.
“PREPA is using public resources to deny citizens information that they have a right to know, which are the plans for the privatization and energy future of Puerto Rico,” said Ingrid M. Vila-Biaggi, founder of CAMBIO.
“We had reached an agreement before the court and just a few days later, they want to reverse it, which is unacceptable,” she said.
On May 24, PREPA, CAMBIO and IEEFA had reached an agreement in court, when Judge Cuevas responded to a mandamus petition to demand delivery of public information regarding the privatization and the electrical system. CAMBIO and IEEFA had requested the information for months without success, they said.
The judge ordered a negotiation between the parties, and PREPA’s attorneys agreed to produce by June 7 public documents related to privatization and the most recent electrical system data. A second hearing was scheduled for June 25, to inform Judge Cuevas on the result of the document delivery process.
“Acting counter to this agreement, PREPA presented on May 30 a motion for dismissal of the mandamus petition, as it had also attempted to do on May 23, one day before the initial hearing,” the nonprofits said in a statement.
“At the hearing, the judge had already indicated that, given the agreement between the parties, he would not address the motion for dismissal,” the groups further noted.
“Your [PREPA’s] position is not in accord with the agreements reached at the hearing. We clearly warned that, in view of said agreements, the motion for dismissal was suspended until after the conclusion of the schedule agreed to in court,” Judge Cuevas said in court.
Meanwhile, Vila-Biaggi said now it will be a “wait-and-see” what PREPA will do next.
“If they reconsider and decide to provide documents this Friday as they had promised, or if they decide to delay with legal maneuvers, once again leaving the public without vital information on this public corporation,” Vila-Biaggi said.
Cathy Kunkel, IEEFA energy analyst, expressed regret that PREPA had returned to its position of attempting to deny citizens public documents.
“It is necessary to have access to PREPA’s public documents to analyze whether the decisions they are taking are responsible and in accord with an energy policy that is in the best interests of Puerto Rican citizens,” said Kunkel.
In the mandamus petition presented to the court, CAMBIO and IEEFA requested from PREPA information on any cost-benefit studies that had been conducted to justify the proposed transmission and distribution system concession, as well as documents related to new generation proposals, among others.