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Puerto Rico governor urges US Treasury action before power utility runs out of fuel

By on February 16, 2018

SAN JUAN – While in Philadelphia on Friday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló spoke about the dire situation in Puerto Rico due to the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) running out of money to continue running and the U.S. Treasury Department’s delay in disbursing financial aid for the island.

Rosselló said the commonwealth government needs access to the Community Disaster Loans (CDL) in order to provide liquidity to the public power corporation.

“This started back in October. Congress approved these funds specifically to address the issue regarding the liquidity of the central Government and public corporations. We are in talks with the federal Department of Treasury and they have not yet informed us of the terms. The Treasury must disburse the money immediately as this is already an urgent situation,” the governor said at a press conference after addressing civic and community leaders in Pennsylvania.

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“When we achieved the allocation of this money for Puerto Rico in October, the intention was to address the immediate liquidity crisis. Four months after that assignment–and after the different jurisdictions have already had access to the funds under this program–Puerto Rico still does not formally have the terms under which these funds will be granted,” the governor says in a release.

Rosselló assured that his team is continuously providing financial information to the relevant authorities, but reiterated that action is needed as soon as possible.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain decided not to accept a $550 million commonwealth-proposed loan to the utility, which alleges it will immediately have to pare down operations, and decided to consider allowing a $300 million loan that the government is no working on getting her authorization.

“Time keeps running by and there is no liquidity. If we reach the point where we must make safeguards so that power does not go out in Puerto Rico, I will do it. If I must turn off redundant generators, I will do it. We cannot reach a point where the critical infrastructure of Puerto Rico runs out of energy,” the governor warned.

Rosselló reiterated his call for the federal government “to take action on the CDLs,” adding, “This is about people in the middle of bureaucracy. If power goes out in Puerto Rico, if we are unable buy fuel, this will become a humanitarian crisis. We can avoid it, but things need to start moving.”

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