The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority will to provide CAMBIO and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis complete access to its electrical system data, the nonprofits announced.
The organizations had requested the information to carry out a modeling study based on distributed renewable energy sources. Because the data contains confidential information on critical infrastructure with federal-level protections, the parties will enter into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that will not restrict publication of results of the study to be conducted, they confirmed.
This agreement, which they stated is “unprecedented in Puerto Rico,” was achieved by way of Judge Anthony Cuevas-Ramos, in the San Juan Superior Court, after a mandamus request was presented by CAMBIO and IEEFA in May 2019 for access to public documents related to the privatization of PREPA and the electrical system.
Pursuant to the agreement reached in court, PREPA must deliver a draft NDA to the organizations by Oct. 25, 2019. PREPA has already delivered additional documents related to generation projects and will have 30 days to complete delivery of additional agreed-upon documentation.
“It is a great victory for citizens who claim their right to information. It is the first time that PREPA has agreed to share data about the electrical system with an organization outside the corporation,” said Ingrid M. Vila-Biaggi, president and co-founder of CAMBIO.
“With this data we can do modeling to demonstrate that a transformation of the electrical system is possible prioritizing distributed renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, as presented in the ‘We Want Sun’ proposal,” she said.
Part of the documentation that was received included: minutes of meetings of the evaluation committee for the conversion to natural gas of San Juan 5 and 6 power plants, written communications with federal agencies and permits processed to date.
PREPA will also produce certifications indicating that a valuation of assets was never conducted and that a cost benefit analysis on privatizing the public corporation was never performed.
“We hope to soon conclude this case, with the signing of the NDA, PREPA’s production of documents we have identified and certifications if they simply do not exist,” Vila-Biaggi said.
“It is quite worrisome to learn that PREPA is proceeding with privatization without basic information and without an analysis of the impact of such decisions,” she added.
Meanwhile, Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at IEEFA, said, “This is a great step forward for gaining a clearer understanding of what has and has not been done in the PREPA privatization process. It is very concerning, to say the least, that there appears to be little to no cost:benefit analysis undertaken to date.”
There are also pending documents on the San Juan 5 and 6 conversion project that New Fortress Energy, who was awarded the project, alleges are business secrets.
The judge is providing New Fortress Energy time to present its arguments before the court, but the organizations argued that these are public documents.
Negotiations extended through Wednesday morning and afternoon. Cuevas-Ramos mediated the meetings at the request of CAMBIO’s attorneys, Judith Berkan and Mary Jo Méndez. PREPA director José Ortiz was contacted to validate the agreement to provide access to electrical system data.
Four PREPA officials had been summoned by the judge to explain why the corporation refused to hand over to CAMBIO and IEEFA the requested public documents on the privatization process and data about the Island’s electrical system. They participated in the negotiation meetings earlier this week, but they did not need to testify.
Proceeding began in May
CAMBIO and IEEFA presented a mandamus request in the San Juan Superior Court in May to demand the delivery of PREPA public information, after several direct requests were made to the utility without receiving a reply. During the first hearing on May 24, it was agreed that PREPA would deliver the relevant documents by June 7.
During ensuing judicial hearings, PREPA refused to produce the requested information based on claims of confidentiality. Of the documents claimed by CAMBIO and IEEFA, related to the privatization process and data of the electrical system, PREPA made an initial delivery on June 7, and additional partial deliveries on June 14, June 17 and Aug. 15.
There were other recent meetings with PREPA, but it was not until yesterday that the utility agreed to deliver all of the requested public documents and to an NDA to provide access to the electrical system data.