Ricardo Rosselló announced Monday that the commonwealth will begin privatizing the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA. FEMA isn't allowed to install a more modern renewable system that would be easier to bring to Puerto Rico's remote areas and that would better endure future extreme storms.
Rossello said the electrical grid is not designed for Puerto Rico's current needs, noting that the greatest demand exists in the northern part of the island while the main generation plants are in the south. Only about 60% of the island's power has been restored since (making it the longest blackout in USA history) and water and basic goods are still scarce.
"The maintenance of its infrastructure was practically abandoned during the past decade", Roselló said.
The announcement comes just two days before the bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or "PREPA", is due to submit a revised fiscal plan following the destruction of Hurricane Maria.
"The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has become a heavy burden on our people, who are now hostage to its poor service and high cost".
Others worry that privatization without proper regulation would actually drive up Puerto Ricans' energy rates, The Intercept wrote in a lengthy report on the subject. The lack of power is the central obstacle to resuming normal life. But Puerto Rico has been privatizing the operations of some government agencies in recent years amid a recession that has lasted more than a decade, including management of the main worldwide airport and one of its main highways.
Rossello said PREPA's electrical grid is not designed for Puerto Rico's current needs, noting that the greatest demand exists in the northern part of the island, while the main generation plants are in the south. Rossello said PREPA's infrastructure is almost 30 years older than the industry average.
"It's sad that they've waited so long to do this", said economist Gustavo Velez.
A spokesman for the utility did not return a message for comment, while union leaders said they would not comment until Tuesday. "The public corporation has had a historically deficient administration that has maintained a virtual monopoly on power generation in Puerto Rico".