Utier accuses Prepa’s Quintana, demands CRO Donahue’s resignation
BAYAMÓN – The Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym) called Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) President Javier Quintana a liar for saying the mass power outage that left millions of Prepa clients without electric service for several days was unrelated to neglect and lack of infrastructure maintenance at the public corporation.
Utier spokesperson Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo denounced that, as the current administration’s savings measures have been implemented, Prepa’s senior management has been conscious that they were acting under the risk of leaving the island without service at any given moment.
“Prepa’s private management, and I emphasize ‘private,’made the decision to risk service continuity and leave people in the dark in order to save money and then justify privatization. [Javier Quintana] can’t claim now that he didn’t know the risks involved because he publicly admitted last July 25 that electric energy operation was running with line reserves of 300 megawatts [MW], instead of the 450 MW required, which for a professional as Quintana claims he is, is something he should have warned,” the labor leader said.
Figueroa Jaramillo said that Prepa’s executive director stated in those declarations his intentions of reducing the reserves even further, to 230 MW, in order to save an additional $30 million.
“To that reserve reduction that Quintana himself admitted two months before the blackout, add the governor’s first acknowledgement of the lack of maintenance that Utier has been denouncing for years, and that those in power decided to ignore, and now we see the result,” he said.
Demands Donahue’s Resignation
Figueroa Jaramillo demanded the resignation of Lisa Donahue and her company AlixPartners, hired by the government to oversee Prepa’s financial restructuring and operations, and assured she is one of the people directly responsible for implementing austerity measures that caused the blackout that affected the island’s 1.5 million Prepa customers.
“We know Donahue has had extensive control of Prepa’s operations, and has even demanded department heads to report directly to her to guarantee her orders are executed. That is why she is involved in this issue. In that same room, on five occasions, we met with Donahue and didn’t talk about financial restructuring, we spoke about the system’s operations, health and safety,” the Utier leader said.
Figueroa Jaramillo also criticized Gov. Alejandro García Padilla for defending Donahue’s contract after the outage and for “lying to the people” when assuring the event wasn’t related to her employment, since she was only responsible of overseeing the restructuring process and not the public corporation’s operations.
“Donahue’s contract includes the implementation of changes in Prepa’s generation, transmission and energy distribution, which is why the governor lied by excluding her from what happened with the outage. If that were true…. That process ended with the approval of Act 4 in February. Then, why did he extend her contract?” he questioned.
“[On Tuesday], she mockingly said it was a miracle Puerto Rico had electricity. That is true, that miracle is due to the men and women that wake up every day so the country has power, not her. And that is an acknowledgement that her role in Prepa hasn’t served anything, because telling this country it is a miracle we have electricity after two years since her hiring and charging the government $46 million, the least we can do as a nation is destitute her and charge bill her for the $46 million for a service she didn’t provide,” Figueroa Jaramillo said emphatically.