Monday 21 January 2019

Puerto Rico to privatise troubled power company

Governor Ricardo Rossello says the move will help attract more business to the island.

Ricardo Rossello
Ricardo Rossello

By Associated Press Reporters

Puerto Rico’s governor has said he is privatising the government-owned power company following decades of mismanagement, corruption and blackouts.

Monday’s surprise announcement came as nearly 30% of customers remain in the dark more than four months after Hurricane Maria.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said the move will offer more affordable rates and better service to consumers as well as help attract more business to an island mired in an 11-year-old recession.

“One of the greatest obstacles that has halted our opportunities for economic development is the deficient and obsolete system of generation and distribution of energy,” he said.

Mr Rossello noted that Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority is operating with infrastructure that is nearly 30 years older than the industry average.

In addition, it has lost 30% of its employees in the last five years, 86% of whom were assigned to maintenance, he said.

The governor said that over the past decade, overall demand for energy in Puerto Rico has dropped nearly 20%, with a near-50% fall in the industrial sector.

In the next couple of days, government officials will start a process to sell the assets of the power company, which is roughly $9 billion (£6.4 billion) in debt and has struggled with blackouts, including an island-wide one in September 2016.

Press Association

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