Electric Utility Chief Concerned with LUMA Hiring Process
Gov’t Transition Committee Chairman Questions Contract
SAN JUAN — The executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), Efran Paredes, expressed unease about the process that LUMA Energy, which was contracted to run the public utility’s transmission and distribution system, is utilizing with regard to hiring workers
“There is another concern that I have and it’s related to our workers,” Paredes said during Tuesday’s government transition hearing. “I don’t see an orderly transition nor sufficient information for our workers to be able to make an informed decision in terms of moving on to [work with] LUMA. What I am seeing is the publication of job posts and the authority worker that wants and believes they should be in that corporation applies for the post.”
Paredes added that this situation was causing “an emotional problem, a procedural problem, and a problem that at the end of day the government of Puerto Rico will have if those workers don’t transition correctly to LUMA. In fact, I have to say that I have heard in the last few days that they [LUMA] are calling and saying that if you don’t request a job post, we will open the doors to hire people outside of Prepa.”
Incoming Committee Chairman Ramón Luis Rivera noted that LUMA will be able to issue contracts of between $10 million and $30 million, and Prepa is not entitled to determine whether any of them are necessary.
“It would be authorized by the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3) but, as far as I know, P3 doesn’t have the staff with the knowledge, the technical expertise or the experience to do this,” Rivera stressed.
Rivera asked whether Prepa has any say if an environmental accident were to occur.
“That is what the contract says,” Paredes replied, acknowledging that the power corporation does not.
“I believe that the adequate way to carry out the transition and comply with the public policy established in Act 120 is that the entity that manages the contract be an entity that has the expertise and the structure to be able to do it,” Paredes said.
Rivera proceeded to ask what Paredes recommends for the LUMA contract to be more effective.
“That the management of the contract be carried out by an entity that has the expertise and structure to do it,” he replied, adding that there are some 423 job positions posted on LUMA’s website, and 708 Prepa workers have applied for multiple published posts.
“And why aren’t all the Prepa workers transitioning to LUMA?” Rivera questioned. “Isn’t that what was supposed to happen.”
To which Paredes replied: “That is why I mentioned that there is a procedural problem.”
The Prepa chief further noted that everyone wants for the transition with LUMA to work.
“I have been in conversations with the P3 to establish the necessary information mechanisms and modify the approach that LUMA is carrying out with our workers so we can do this in a coordinated fashion and that benefits everyone,” Paredes assured. “We are working on that as we speak.”