Thursday, November 23, 2017

Puerto Rico electric utility rejects fiscal board’s intention to appoint ‘chief transformation officer’

By on October 27, 2017

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) governing board approved Friday morning a motion to reject a request by the island’s fiscal control board to appoint a “chief transformation officer” who would be in charge of achieving grid-repair goals as well as attracting new capital at the public corporation.

The post, as requested by the fiscal board to the federal court, would be held by Revitalization Coordinator Noel Zamot, who on Friday morning acknowledged to the media the work being carried out by Prepa Executive Directo Ricardo Ramos, and expressed his goals for the public corporation.

The secretary of Public Affairs, Ramón Rosario. (Yoel Parrilla / CB)

The Prepa governing board’s motion was unanimously approved in a meeting held Friday morning, said the secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario.

The government also rejected the appointment of Zamot, which must be approved by federal court, and will appeal the case in the corresponding judicial and political forums, Rosario added.

“The Prepa Governing Board today unanimously approved the rejection of the appointment of Noel Zamot in a resolution in which they do not recognize the authority [of the fiscal board to] impose their decisions, only to recommend,” the official declared at the last press conference expected to be held in the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which has been serving as then government’s emergency operations center after Hurricane Maria.

Fiscal board ‘interests’

For the secretary of Public Affairs, Zamot’s appointment did not come out of the blue, and is related to potential financial interests that the fiscal board established by federal law may have in Prepa.

“We don’t know what particular or economic or  creditor interests the board may have with this appointment. Prepa is under transformation and going through a very difficult moment, in which all its employees are working hard to reestablish the electric grid. We see it as unnecessary, we see it isn’t in accordance with the law [the appointment],” Rosario stressed.

The utility board’s decision comes after, on Thursday evening, the island’s fiscal control board asked federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who is in charge of the public utility and Puerto Rico government’s bankruptcy process through Title III of the Promesa law–to authorize Zamot to assume “all the powers of a chief executive officer” at Prepa.

The development comes about as the majority of the island lacks electricity. The government reported Friday that only 26.7% of the utility’s power generation capacity has been restored, the highest percentage since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico 37 days ago. This figure, however, does not represent the number of customers whose electric service has been restored. It may well be that more than 75% remain without power.

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