Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Senate to investigate Prepa contract with AES

By on January 28, 2017


Coal ash-filled dumptrucks are seen near the Peñuelas landfill (Inter News Service photo)

Coal ash-filled dumptrucks are seen near the Peñuelas landfill on Nov. 23. (File photo)

SAN JUAN – The Senate approved a resolution Saturday afternoon to investigate amendments to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) contract with private power-generating company AES that originally prohibited coal ash to be disposed of in Puerto Rico.

Senate Vice President Larry Seilhamer introduced Senate Resolution 2, which orders the Government Committee to conduct an investigation into the reasons why Prepa’s board and directors requested to amend contract sections pertaining to the prohibition of coal-ash dumping in Puerto Rico, as well as not stipulate an adjustment to what AES was paying.

“AES now has lower operational costs than had been estimated and contemplated in its original contract and clearly sees savings by not exporting the ash outside of Puerto Rico that are not passed on to the people of Puerto Rico. That’s what I want to investigate. I want to analyze everything and if with that amendment to the contract–in which they do not have to send millions of tons of coal ash outside of Puerto Rico and transport it from Guayama to Peñuelas–if there are savings. What I want is for that analysis to be made,” Seilhamer argued.

Senate Resolution 2 was endorsed by Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) minority leader, and PDP Sens. Aníbal José Torres and Cirilo Tirado, both of whom expressed their support for the investigation during their respective turns.

“This servant is a promoter of energy generation by the private sector, and I want that sector generating energy for Puerto Rico based on a process of free competition, but there is the role of supervising. I do not want to declare if there has been an appropriation of funds, but this amendment to the Prepa contract with AES did not represent a credit for the people of Puerto Rico,” the Senate vice president added.

For his part, Bhatia said that even worse than coal ash is the oil burned by Prepa every day.

“If we are going to depend on Prepa we will still be waiting in 2080. Prepa has no intention to stop using oil. I’m calling for a thorough investigation of the federal legislation; what role did the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] have in this,” Bhatia said.

“There is nothing but a racket by Prepa here,” Sen. Aníbal José Torres said, adding that the public utility “allowed a contract to be altered in 2015 that did not benefit Prepa, but rather AES. What the resolution seeks is to discover that racket in Prepa and who made the changes to the AES contract. I am sure that the result of the investigation will reveal that some got involved in the negotiation to benefit AES.”

Meanwhile, Tirado asked that the Senate act to establish public policy to stop the ash’s disposal in Puerto Rico. For his part, Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Juan Dalmau said the inquiry opens the door to uncovering a conspiracy trend within Prepa to favor an elite related to the energy sector.

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