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Puerto Rico gov’t announces 6 public-private partnership projects

By on October 16, 2017

By Génesis Ibarra and María Soledad Dávila Calero

SAN JUAN – While Puerto Rico continues in a state of emergency after Hurricane María, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló presented Monday six infrastructure projects that could improve
the battered Puerto Rican economy, excacerbated by the local Treasury’s lack of revenue.

“We want to take this opportunity not only to rebuild Puerto Rico as it was, but as it should be,” the governor said at the Emergency Operations Center (COE), affirming that his administration wants “to look for opportunities to provide better services, better infrastructure.”

Alongside the executive director of the Public Private Partnerships Authority, Omar Marrero, Rosselló said the six projects could create 7,000 jobs, generate $300 million to $400 million through construction and result in $50 million a year for the weak economy.

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Among the proposals, the governor highlighted three energy projects that were not solicited by the government. The first focuses on alternative energy (hydroelectric), to maximize renewable power’s potential on the island and generate clean energy, in addition to producing electricity at a lower cost.

Presented by Cube Hydro Partners to “strengthen” the island’s hydroelectric system, Marrero, explained that the partnership proposal includes Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa). However, it is too early to tell which dams would end up being utilized for the project.

“It is necessary to conduct a technical viability and economic feasibility study, and that’s when it will be determined if it’s all hydroelectric plants [or] if it’s going to be other hydroelectrics. Once that’s finished, then it opens the process for other proposals,” Marrero said.

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Addressing a long-sought goal of moving energy generation to the north part of the island, Puma Energy submitted a proposal to establish a propane gas-fired generation site. Where the plant would be located is not yet known.

Finally, Bostonia Partners’s proposal would tackle an issue Rosselló hopes will bring more stability to the island’s electric grid. The project for energy stability involves the installation of generation units for use during high energy-consumption, or peak, periods, with the aim of improving the grids reliability.

The three other project proposals, included in the fiscal plan certified by the island’s financial oversight board before the hurricane, will focus on modernizing public parking lots through concessions; establishing improved maritime transportation to Vieques, Culebra and Cataño; and building a of 500-unit dorm at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez campus, also known as (RUM).

“These six projects we are announcing today help us put the rebuilding of Puerto Rico on track and restore investment in infrastructure,” said Marrero, adding that not only will citizens benefit, but will also make the island “a more competitive market.”

Rosselló said that although the island continues in a state of emergency 26 days after the catastrophic storm, it is time to delve into “parallel paths” toward Puerto Rico’s recovery and avoid “an equal or more severe emergency.”

Public-private partnerships provide “the opportunity for that the capital the government, that the federal government doesn’t have to rebuild Puerto Rico more effectively, that it be in collaboration with the private sector,” the governor said.

Public-private partnerships provide “the opportunity for that the capital the government, that the federal government doesn’t have to rebuild Puerto Rico more effectively, that it be in collaboration with the private sector,” the governor said.

The three proposals energy-related proposals announced Monday are some of the combined 14 the administration has received via its unsolicited-proposal strategy, some of which have been ruled out, Marrero said.

“We have the most robust legal architecture of this hemisphere” to promote these types of partnerships,” Rosselló added about his administration’s strategy.

 

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