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Puerto Rico to privatize Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority-Governor Rossello

Adrian Brito

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority ( PREPA ) is the sole provider of electricity for 1.5 million customers.

By Jonathan Levin and Yalixa Rivera

Petroleumworld 01 23

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said he's moving to privatize the assets of the island's electric company, the utility that was so badly damaged by Hurricane Maria that millions were left in the dark.

Rossello said the sale of the  Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority's assets could take 18 months and will start by defining a legal framework.

"We're taking a step toward a consumer-focused model, where you'll have options," Rossello said in the televised address Monday.

The move could be a major development in the fate of a bankrupt agency at the center of the ravaged U.S. commonwealth's recovery. The lack of power is the central obstacle to resuming normal life. But left unanswered is who might be interested in purchasing a badly damaged system and what a sale would mean for creditors and residents.

The utility was plagued by decaying infrastructure even before Hurricane Maria barreled into the island on Sept. 20, taking down poles and leaving large parts of the island in the dark months after the storm.

Last year, Rossello successfully fought to keep control of the power company, convincing a judge to block a takeover by the federal oversight board that is in charge of restructuring the bankrupt island's $74 billion public debt. That board had tried to install its own management team at Prepa.

Creditors who are owed more than $5.3 billion have also sought to take over the utility, trying unsuccessfully to persuade a court to install a receiver. Prepa supplies most of Puerto Rico's electricity and has struggled to renovate an aging system that relies on oil to produce electricity.

Story by Jonathan Levin and Yalixa Rivera from Bloomberg.

bloomberg.com/ 01 22 2018

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