Puerto Rico Moves To Privatize Island's Electric Company

Power restoration in Puerto Rico

Credit US Department of Energy and Travis Hartman Reuters Graphics via Think Progress

Less than 64 percent of homes and businesses are receiving power, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

These PAW-sengers em-BARK-ed on the journey from Puerto Rico to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington D.C. after spending months on their own after Hurricane Maria.

Its director was forced out in November after the utility failed to immediately call for help from its mainland counterparts after the storm.

UTIER, the island's utility workers' union, has alleged that the leaders Rosselló installed at PREPA have deliberately let the power authority fall into disarray to strengthen the argument for selling off its assets. "While Puerto Rico may attempt such an end-around maneuver, we doubt that it would pass muster with the courts", Palmer, who covers MBIA and Assured Guaranty, said. "The deficient and obsolete system of generation and distribution of energy is one of the great impediments to our economic development".

Ricardo Rosselló says he is moving to sell off the USA territory's public power company, as almost a third of the island's electric customers remain without power four months after Hurricane Maria struck the island on September 20.

Because PREPA is bankrupt, a federal judge will have to approve the sale, in addition to the island's legislature.

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The privatization process could take 18 months.

"It's sad that they've waited so long to do this", said economist Gustavo Velez.

"We believe it would not be feasible for Puerto Rico to sell PREPA's assets without the net revenue lien following those assets to the benefit of AGO [Assured Guaranty], MBI [MBIA] and bondholders".

Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz was more reserved, saying he would analyze the proposal and make sure that any changes guarantee an "adequate, efficient and affordable" electrical service for all Puerto Ricans.

"The maintenance of its infrastructure was practically abandoned over the past decade", Rossello said. "The energy system is not designed for the needs of the Puerto Rico of today". The fund, which has been supported by the likes of Ricky Martin, Spike Lee, and Princess Nokia, is set to help initiatives on the front lines engaged with immediate relief and long-term efforts to build an equitable Puerto Rico. Its power generation plants burn expensive and polluting oil and its infrastructure averages about 45 years old, compared to about 18 years for utilities on the US mainland, according to The Associated Press. The company has a total workforce of about 10,000 employees.

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