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    Puerto Rico to privatise power generation amid outages

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (AP) – Puerto Rico announced on Sunday that it plans to privatise electricity generation, a first for a United States (US) territory facing chronic power outages as it struggles to rebuild a crumbling electric grid.

    The move marks the beginning of the end for Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, a behemoth long accused of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency that holds some USD9 billion in public debt, the largest of any government agency.

    Many Puerto Ricans already irate and fatigued by power outages were wary of the announcement, given that serious complaints about the length of outages, costly power bills and other issues arose after the island’s government privatised the transmission and distribution of power in June 2021.

    Executive director of Puerto Rico’s Public-Private Partnerships Authority Fermín Fontanés, said the board of directors unanimously approved the privatisation of generation, including the members who represent the public’s interest. It was not immediately known which company they selected to take over power generation.

    A spokeswoman with the authority said the contract was not yet public, in accordance with local laws. Fontanés said the contract would be sent to the governing board of Puerto Rico’s power company and then to the territory’s governor for his signature.

    The contract is expected to be approved despite opposition to the privatisation.

    Vice president of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party Carmen Maldonado, said she and others would fight the plan.

    Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority workers repair distribution lines in the Cantera community of San Juan, Puerto Rico. PHOTO: AP
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