The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Posts Testimony for Hearing of Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Witness testimony for today’s U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources  hearing on hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands has been made public.

The witnesses include:

  • The Honorable Kenneth Mapp, Governor, United States Virgin Islands
  • The Honorable Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • The Honorable Bruce Walker, Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Major General Donald E. Jackson Jr., Deputy Commanding General, Civil and Emergency Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Ricardo Ramos, Executive Director, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
  • Julio Rhymer Sr., Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority
  • José H. Román Morales PE, Acting Chairman, Puerto Rico Energy Commission
  • Natalie Jaresko, Executive Director, Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico

Governor Kapp stated in his prepared statement: “Fundamentally, the Territories, as part of the United States, should always be treated more favorably than foreign jurisdictions under federal tax law. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Indeed, as a result of unduly harsh provisions in the JOBS Act of 2004, the Territories are in many ways treated worse than foreign jurisdictions. In particular, the (effectively connected) income sourcing rules imposed by the JOBS Act have unfairly restricted our Economic Development Commission (“EDC”) program and inhibited our ability to grow our economy, particularly in the increasingly important knowledge-based and financial services sectors. We have been working with the U.S. Treasury to “re-balance” the overly restrictive JOBS Act rules by making modest corrective changes to the JOBS Act. I urge your support for inclusion of these changes in legislation this year. In addition, I urge that Congress consider the unique circumstances and economic development needs of the Territories in other elements of tax reform, including taxation of possessions earnings repatriated to the United States from the Territories.”

Governor Rosselló stated in his prepared statement: “This is a transformative moment in the history of Puerto Rico. We recognize that your leadership, along with that of leaders from both parties, will be essential to our recovery, and the future economic and fiscal health of the island. To that end, we are committed to fully engaging leaders from the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations in the design and implementation of this rebuilding program. We will Build Back Better, not just in terms of the physical and economic reconstruction of the island, but through a true public-private partnership with a process that is open, transparent and accountable to our community, to the Federal government and the American people, who are showing such tremendous and heartfelt support for our efforts. Puerto Rico has been treated equally in times of war, sacrificing like any other state, now in our time of greatest need we call on Congress to treat us equally as we work to recover, and ultimately rebuild a new and stronger Puerto Rico. We have the will and the spirit needed to continue contributing as part of the great American family. Help us help ourselves, and in doing so you can live up to America’s greatest ideals. Our future is in your hands. With sustained federal assistance and your leadership and support, I am confident that in time the people of Puerto Rico will recover and grow stronger than ever.”

Assistant Secretary Bruce Walker stated in his prepared statement: “I am grateful for the hard work of DOE’s emergency responders in this active and challenging hurricane season. We have made progress, but there is still more to do. Over the next several months, DOE’s primary focus in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be working with our partners to support the mission of restoring the power grids and critical infrastructure. Secretary Perry and our DOE team look forward to a thoughtful conversation focused on our response to this season’s hurricanes, and on the reliability, affordability, and resilience of the electricity system from hurricanes, as well as other extreme weather events.”

General Donald E. Jackson Jr. stated in his prepared statement: “On September, 30 2017, the Corps was given a FEMA Mission Assignment, within the authority of the Stafford Act, to assist the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in further repairing the power system to its pre-storm condition. The Corps is conducting this mission. The Corps remains fully committed and capable of executing its other Civil Works activities across the Nation despite our heavy involvement in these ongoing response and recovery operations. We also remain ready and poised to assist in future events as they may occur. This concludes my testimony and I look forward to answering any questions you might have. Thank you.”

Ricardo Ramos stated on his prepared statement: “Since the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, the employees of PREPA and the thousands of workers who have come to Puerto Rico to assist us have worked tirelessly to restore power and begin the recovery process. We have made significant progress, but much more remains to be done. We are working hard toward meeting the Governor’s directive that 95% of the island must have its power restored by December 15, 2017. Even during the recovery and restoration process, we are focused on developing a plan for the future of electric energy in Puerto Rico. PREPA’s governing board has brought together top minds in the industry to provide best-in-class thinking on the future of our electric utility. Our team is evaluating all options in order to achieve grid reliability and resilience for the long term.”

Julio Rhymer Sr. stated on his prepared statement: “WAPA is working to develop the initial micro grid in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Port Authority at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. This particular micro grid would be energized with four megawatts of solar power and two megawatts of battery 4 storage. Depending on available funding, WAPA will seek to develop additional micro grids at strategic locations across the Territory. Additionally, WAPA continues to pursue funding to liquidate a ten-year obligation it has with the previously mentioned VITOL Group. Eliminating that obligation would not only allow the Authority to manage the day to day operations of the LPG terminals, but also allow more financial flexibility given the austere resources of the Authority.”

Jose Roman stated in his prepared statement: “In this testimony, I have sought to explain the Commission’s obligations and plans for restoring our electric service and transforming our electric industry. The need for an independent entity, free of politics and focused on merits, with the single-minded goal of bringing cost-effectiveness and competitive rigor to the Commonwealth’s most important infrastructural industry, could never be greater.”

 

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