The qualification process for companies or consortiums interested in operating the island’s hydroelectric system is three months behind schedule, which the government yesterday attributed to the fact that they are still evaluating the information submitted.
When the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was published on April 16, the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3) said that those entering the Request for Proposals stage would be announced on June 17. However, the RFQ was amended twice and, finally, the notification date was set for August 5, according to official documents published on the internet. Three months later, the P3 has not yet published who the proponents are.
"There have been two requests for additional information to complement the details already included in the proposals, in order to be able to make a fair evaluation", said P3 Executive Director Fermín Fontanés.
Fontanés added that the last request was in September and that they are already evaluating the material submitted. “We will be announcing the proponents who will move on to the (second) round in the coming weeks,” he said.
The Hydroelectric Cooperative of the Mountain, which is interested in operating the Caonillas and Dos Bocas plants to supply energy to Adjuntas, Jayuya, Utuado, and part of Ponce, is among those waiting for news regarding the process.
“We don’t want preferential treatment but just to know whether we go to the next stage. The Authority demonstrates a lack of transparency in the processes,” said Sarahil Nieves, Project Manager at Unidos for Utuado, from where the Cooperative emerged.
Meanwhile, Maribel Hernández, coordinator at Unidos for Utuado, warned that if the P3 does not respond soon, "we could lose the support" of companies like PowerSecure, Siemens, Voith, and Americas Energy Services, which have shown interest in the project.
She added that "if we are not sure that we are going to make it to the second round, we can’t submit the funding proposal to the USDA Rural Utilities Service either." According to Hernández, they could get up to $ 150 million for the project through that agency.