Ricardo Ramos, executive director of the Electric Power Authority of Puerto Rico (PREPA), attends a news conference, in San Juan. resigned following criticism of the slow restoration of power to the island after Hurricane Maria on 17 November 2017. Photo: Alvin Baez / REUTERS

By Jessica Resnick-Ault and Nick Brown
17 November 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The head of Puerto Rico’s indebted utility has resigned following criticism of the slow restoration of power to the island after Hurricane Maria, the U.S. territory’s governor said.

Ricardo Ramos, who was named head of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in 2016, was also criticized over controversial contracts. His resignation was effective Friday, Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a statement.

Rossello recommended Justo Gonzalez as interim director, according to a separate statement. Gonzalez is currently director of power generation at PREPA, a role he took on in April 2017. Gonzalez previously was the company’s planning and environmental protection director and operations manager of the Aguirre Steam Plant.

PREPA’s board will meet later on Friday to discuss who will succeed Ramos, who was appointed by Rossello.

Rossello said he supported a search within and outside Puerto Rico to fill the role permanently.

“I am hoping they do it as quickly as possible,” said Jose Roman Morales, interim chairman of Puerto Rico’s energy commission, which regulates PREPA. […]

In a webcast update on restoration efforts, Ramos said that 50.5 percent of generation had been restored as of Friday, and additional lines have been repaired that have not yet been charged to provide electricity.

“The highest peak of generation that we have had is 50 percent. In this week, we had about three general blackouts in the island that kept San Juan in the dark for most of the week. That is totally unacceptable,” said Tomas Torres, executive director of the nonprofit Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy for Puerto Rico. [more]

Puerto Rico utility head resigns after slow Hurricane Maria response

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