Capitol leaders denounce pay set for new Puerto Rico power company CEO
SAN JUAN – Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez criticized Wednesday the salary the Governing Board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) granted to the utility’s new executive director, Rafael Díaz Granados.
“This salary awarded to the new Executive Director of PREPA, of about $750,000 per year, is totally disconnected from the economic and fiscal reality of that public corporation. It is reprehensible that the members of the Governing Board authorize this type of wage compensation knowing the situation that our people are going through in these historic moments. There are still sectors of our island in the dark, many of the poles destroyed by the passage of Hurricane Maria have not yet been changed, there are still many transformers operating past their useful life; that should be the priority of Prepa at this time, not granting large salaries in moments of crisis,” Speaker Méndez said in a statement.
Rivera Schatz went further and called for the dismissal of all the members of Prepa’s Governing Board.
“If it is corroborated that the new Executive Director of PREPA or the group that will be in charge of the corporation intends to collect a salary of 750,000.00 (dollars) as it has transpired in the media, we must dismiss the Governing Board members of Prepa who back that barbarity,” the Senate president posted on Facebook account.
“That insult to Puerto Ricans is unacceptable. I trust that our Governor will act on this matter so that everything is perfectly clear,” he added.
The Senate leader hinted that he would use the mechanisms of the Legislative Assembly to “act” on the matter.
“From the Senate, we will be attentive and we will act,” Rivera Schatz wrote.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Higgins said:
“The governing board of PREPA is by law an independent board charged with overseeing all aspects of the operation of PREPA including setting the compensation of the CEO. The PREPA governing board did exactly this in hiring me in March, 2018. Subsequent my being hired, concerns were raised from some quarters about the amount and construct of my compensation. The board addressed these openly and with data demonstrating that the board had carried out its independent responsibility in accordance with the law and good business judgment.”
Méndez also called on the Governing Board to immediately withdraw the announced compensation.
“I call on the members of the Board to reverse, immediately and without further contemplation, the salary that was awarded to the new Executive Director. The priority of Prepa, regarding who will take the reins of directing it, must be the complete energization of Puerto Rico. It must be the preparation of the electrical infrastructure to [be able to] receive the battering of another weather phenomenon such as [Hurricane] María. It has to be the transformation of the electrical grid to a modern one, capable of mitigating the damages caused by a hurricane or storm. It cannot be to receive a salary of three-quarters of a million dollars a year. The priorities have to be with the people,” the speaker added.