A worker of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority (PREPA) repairs part of the electrical grid after Hurricane Maria hit the area in September, in Manati, Puerto Rico, 30 October 2017. Photo: Alvin Baez / REUTERS

By Daniel Bases, with additional reporting by Nick Brown and Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Leslie Adler and Clive McKeef
22 January 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Puerto Rico’s governor said on Monday he intends to sell off its troubled power utility to the private sector, saying the process could take roughly 18 months to complete.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has yet to recover fully from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria, which in late September knocked out power to the entire island and left all 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory in the dark and killed dozens of people.

“The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has become a heavy burden on our people, who are now hostage to its poor service and high cost,” Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a statement. “What we know today as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority does not work and cannot continue to operate like this,”

Less than 64 percent of homes and businesses are receiving power, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy. PREPA had promised that most of the island would have power by the end of December. The new plan calls for 30 percent of power generation to be through renewable sources. […]

An ad hoc group of investors holding much of the utility’s $9 billion in bonds had no immediate comment. […]

One analyst was skeptical of Rossello’s plan.

”He’s got no energy plan, no financial analysis, if he thinks he’s going to sell it off and the private sector is going to come in and invest, that is a recipe for Puerto Rico being raked over the coals by private interests,” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Cleveland, Ohio-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“This will produce a maximum amount of corruption and a minimal amount of electricity,” said Sanzillo whose organization has provided expert witnesses to proceedings of Puerto Rico’s Energy Commission. [more]

Puerto Rico to sell off crippled power utility PREPA



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