62 dogs and cats rescued from hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico

Andrew Cummings
January 25, 2018

Ricardo Rosselló said on Monday, the move to privatize power will modernize power generation, making it cheaper and much more efficient for citizens.

Industry analysts say it's a bit too early to tell, noting that it all depends on the type of measure the governor expects to submit in upcoming days to start the privatization process.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — One of the largest public utilities in the USA might soon be up for sale, but many wonder who would want to buy a power company that is worth roughly half of the $9 billion debt it holds and has an infrastructure almost three times older than the industry average.

“The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority 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. It is the largest USA public utility, with 3.3 million customers.

Privatizing the utility would improve service, reduce the cost of electricity and increase investment in renewable energy, Rossello said. There are longstanding accusations of mismanagement and corruption.

Its power generation plants burn expensive and polluting oil and its infrastructure averages 45 years old.

“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, ” said Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Cleveland, Ohio-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

The almost category 5 storm made landfall on September 20 and left the island's electrical grid in shambles - after more than 100 days, some residents still haven't had power restored.

Figueroa warned that power bills would only increase given the drop in demand for electricity in recent years as roughly half a million Puerto Ricans have fled for the US mainland, and especially if a private company decides to invest in new infrastructure. Any offers would have to be approved by a seven-member federal oversight board and a federal bankruptcy judge in NY.

At the time of the interview, Jaresko said she had not seen the plan, but that even if no money were available to pay debt for five years, "that doesn't mean there's not money available in years six through 30".

"One of the main pillars of the fiscal plan is that we achieve structural balance by fiscal 2022", Rossello said. We also believe that before a privatization of the utility could occur those creditors would have to be satisfied such that it could exit the Title III debt restructuring.

But not everyone agrees that privatizing PREPA is the best solution.

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