Gov fills 2 Puerto Rico power company board seats after resignations
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has appointed the president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), Elí Díaz, and engineer Ralph A. Kreil as members of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) Governing Board.
The new appointments were made to achieve a four-member quorum after five of the board members abruptly resigned over a dispute with the $750,000 salary slated to be given to Rafael Díaz Granados, a board member who was asked to become chief executive officer of Prepa. Díaz Granados was going to replace Walter Higgins III, who resigned effective July 14.
The announcement also follows a tumultuous month for Prepa that included proposed changes that would result in the exit of the Independent Consumer Protection Ombudsman José Pérez Vélez and the failed repeal of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission.
The two new board members join Christian Sobrino, the representative of the governor to the Financial Oversight and Management Board and chairman of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority; and the governor’s chief infrastructure adviser, María Palou.
As an ex officio member of the board, Gerardo Portela, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, is represented by Sobrino.
The Consumer Affairs Department has yet to hold an election to select another member to represent consumers. Luis Santini Gaudier warned that he was “still a Board member” of the utility. Santini Gaudier sued after he and other board members were fired by Rosselló in 2017.
“I strongly reject the allegations of political interference by outgoing members of the Governing Board of PREPA. My commitment to the energy transformation of Puerto Rico is unwavering. My duty is to watch over the best interests of the People of Puerto Rico and I will continue to do so,” the governor, who is on a trip aborad, said in a release issued by his office.
According to La Fortaleza, Kreil “has experience and knowledge in electrical maintenance, power system analysis, lighting distribution, as well as in design and construction of electrical power and control systems.
He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee and “is specialized in power transmission and its interrelation to nuclear and fossil fuels.”
Kreil was president of the Puerto Rico College of Engineers and Surveyors from 2015 to 2017.
“For his part, Díaz worked in 2009 as an infrastructure advisor in La Fortaleza. Between 2010 and 2012 he was director of the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Management Authority (ADS, for its Spanish acronym). As a lawyer and engineer, he has worked in the private and public sector; and studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Earlier Thursday, Rosselló demanded that Prepa’s governing board reduce Díaz Granados’s salary or leave their positions, saying it “must temper the salary to what I am proposing or, alternatively, the members that are not willing to do so must resign their positions, so that these are assumed by people who work hard in the search of a good executive director willing to work for a salary that fits the reality of PREPA.”
In a separate statement, the island’s fiscal board wrote: “Today’s developments, which have resulted in a vacuum of leadership at the highest levels of management and governance at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) are unfortunate, and unduly delay the prompt implementation of the utility’s transformation.
“The Oversight Board, PREPA management, and the Administration’s fiscal team and advisors, have charted a clear path for PREPA’s transformation and financial rehabilitation for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico, its economy and PREPA’s creditors. That path is set forth in the PREPA fiscal plan certified by the Oversight Board. Strict adherence to the implementation of that fiscal plan, regardless of changes in PREPA’s management and governance, is crucial not only to achieve its goals and objectives but to ensure the best possible outcome from the Title III process for the benefit of both PREPA and Puerto Rico.