Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced he is privatizing the island’s state-owned power company after years of corrupt deals and poor service, The Associated Press reported.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has struggled to return power to the island’s residents after Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and energy grid in September. The agency has faced pressure for shady deals made during the crisis.
In the midst of rebuilding, PREPA Executive Director Ricardo Ramos resigned from the agency in November. Ramos was facing increasing amounts of scrutiny for approving a $300 million contract with a small, two-year-old energy firm in Montana. It was the largest contract negotiated with an outside firm to help repair the Puerto Rico’s power grid at the time.
Prior to the hurricane, the state-owned utility had a poor record of cutting costs and finding ways to make energy more affordable for consumers. PREPA’s infrastructure is decades older than the industry average and the agency has lost nearly a third of its employees in five years, the vast majority from maintenance, according to TheAP.
The energy company has also struggled along with the rest of the island through an 11-year 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,” Rosselló said.
The process of selling PREPA’s assets will begin within days.
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