BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Brownsville Public Utilities Board presented its first rebuttal to the city’s forensic audit of a failed $118 million power plant project.
On Monday, coming out of an executive session to discuss legal matters around the report, BPUB shared a statement. In that, BPUB cited “some potential factual issues” with the city’s report.
“We do caution that even after the brief time we were given to read and digest this extensive report, there are some potential factual issues,” the BPUB statement read.
Brownsville city commissioners released the candid review Oct. 5, detailing how the utility board in 2011 raised customers’ electric rates to fund a $118 million plan to develop and operate an electric-generating facility, through a deal presented as being a partnership between BPUB and Tenaska, a Nebraska-based energy company.
BPUB, on Monday, promised “to engage with the City to address in an expedited fashion the mistakes that were made, the root causes, and make whatever structural and/or personnel changes that are needed” after BPUB officials were to complete a review of the audit.
The complete statement from BPUB, in response to the audit, was:
It is clearly important that we respond to the audit in a measured, factual, and deliberate manner that takes into account what is best for the community, the City, and Brownsville PUB.
We must do this quickly and in such a way that we capture the narrative of the audit with our collective objectives in mind with the aim of minimizing negative external impacts to our ability to function effectively in the future.
We do caution that even after the brief time we were given to read and digest this extensive report, there are some potential factual issues. This is important because in order to determine how to proceed with what’s best for our community, we need a common base of agreed facts.
We feel it prudent to allow those listed in the report a specified period of time to respond to the opinions and allegations specified in the audit.
We will conduct an expedited review of the audit, either internally or with the possible help of outside professionals, to help us sort through the facts and present an accurate foundation for moving forward.
We understand and we feel the tremendous concern conveyed to Brownsville Public Utilities Board by the public. So, once we have taken the above steps, we aim to engage with the City to address in an expedited fashion the mistakes that were made, the root causes, and make whatever structural and/or personnel changes that are needed to ensure the Brownsville Public Utilities ship returns quickly without delay to its core mission and the major challenges we and the entire utility industry are facing.Statement from BPUB on Monday
Monday’s meeting began with strong criticism of BPUB from residents speaking during the open comments session. Speakers were limited to five minutes each.
“Millions of dollars have been stolen from us, and I am here today to demand–not to ask, not to beg, but to demand– that based on the conclusion of this audit that the current CEO be placed on leave without pay, immediately,” Brownsville resident Susan Rubalcaba said in open comments.
The audience cheered at her words.
Brownsville PUB Board of Directors Chair Sandra A. Saenz admonished the crowd: “I would ask [audience members here] not to be disruptive, please.”
BPUB officials did not directly respond to residents speaking during the public comments session.