A small, recently established consulting firm is behind the stunning fraud allegations against Central Maine Power’s parent company.
Security Limits Inc., based in Jessup, Pennsylvania, and its CEO, Paulo Silva, filed a federal lawsuit accusing Avangrid of rigging bids, racketeering and buying unnecessary equipment so it could charge higher electricity rates on customers and increase its profits.
Few details about Security Limits are public. The privately held company was established in 2018 in New York and was chartered in Pennsylvania in early 2020.
It has small offices in a business incubator and office complex established by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
Silva did not respond to a phone message left at the offices Monday. The company hires workers as necessary to complete projects and contracts.
On his Linkedin profile online, Silva lists years of experience in cybersecurity at companies such as Thompson Reuters, Citi Bank and BSI, the British Standards Institution, according to his profile.
Since 2011, Silva has consulted at utility companies, including the Pennsylvania electricity provider Exelon and the Massachusetts energy company Eversource.
Security Limits advertises products based on what it calls Ironclad, a cybersecurity a system with hardware and software that protects infrastructure from cyber threats. The cloud-based system “once built and fully operational, is a 21st century information processing facility built specifically for hosting industrial control systems,” the company says on its website. The company is contracted to install and maintain the system, licensed for use by its clients.
Silva consulted for Avangrid from February 2018 to September 2019, according to his profile. As chief architect, he was responsible for implementing the Ironclad system at Avangrid, his profile said.
Besides CMP, Avangrid owns utilities in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. It is headquartered in Orange, Connecticut, and is owned by Iberdrola, a multinational company based in Spain.
Silva recently moved full-time to the Scranton area after spending much of his career commuting between his home in Stamford, Connecticut, and Manhattan, he told Discover NEPA, an economic development group in Northeast Pennsylvania. Silva and his family moved to their second home near Scranton during the pandemic, he told the organization.
Among the accusations in Security Limits’ lawsuit, it says Avangrid bought “tens of millions of dollars” of equipment from a competitor of the plaintiff “at premium prices and with no competition” and then stored the equipment in warehouses in Maine and New York. The purchases allowed Avangrid to justify greater profits when seeking rate increases, it says.
Avangrid has described Silva as a disgruntled former contractor who threatened to disrupt its planned merger with a New Mexico energy company after Avangrid failed to award his company new contracts. Avangrid denies accusations against it and previously sent a cease-and-desist letter to Silva regarding his accusations, it said.
On Friday, it filed a countersuit accusing Silva of defamation and attempted extortion by threatening and harassing the energy company.
“Despite his criticisms of Avangrid, Silva continues to tout his affiliation with Avangrid on his Linkedin page,” the company said in a news release last week.
The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported that Silva repeated his accusations against Avangrid at a meeting of the New Mexico Public Regulations Commission last week and asked commissioners to reject Avangrid’s merger with Public Service Company as “not in the public interest of Americans.”
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