Sale of Prepa Networks not ruled out in privatization of Puerto Rico power utility
SAN JUAN – Although he does not rule it out, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Thursday said the sale of assets and the concession of other property of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) does not include Prepa Networks (PrepaNet).
“We see PrepaNet separately. Yes, it’s a great asset of the government and can be considered,” the governor replied to questions from the press.
PrepaNet is a subsidiary of the public power utility. The network infrastructure provider provides an optical networking platform. Internet providers in Puerto Rico have lobbied and were successful in having measures approved that limit PrepaNet’s ability to enter the market.
The governor also urged legislators to make it viable for public corporations, especially Prepa, to use funds from a future line of credit so they can continue operations.
“We have an Electric Power Authority that’s not going to have money for the contractors that are installing the [utility] poles,” the governor told the press. “It won’t have money for payroll. It won’t have money for fuel. What will the result be if no action is taken? That there will be no power. We are in the best disposition to collaborate with the Legislative Assembly, to find a mechanism, but the mechanism has to be found now.”
At the beginning of January, Rosselló presented a bill that intends to regulate the use a $4 billion line of credit the U.S. Treasury would provide for the public corporations’ liquidity.
“My expectation is that the Legislative Assembly will take action, and that the people know it’s depending on this action, whether we run out of money and, therefore, we don’t have fuel and powerplants are turned off,” he added.
In this process, Rosselló said, the argument cannot be used that the regulation’s approval implies other budget items will be affected.
“I’m asking legislators to be aware of what this implies. To be aware that action must be taken, and this is the vehicle to do so. Arguments such as ‘this takes funds from something to give to another,’ don’t apply. We’re going to take action because it is an emergency if Puerto Rico runs out of resources to buy fuel, to pay the contractors and payroll,” he said.
On Tuesday, the governor announced that to save fuel, the combined-cycle units at the Aguirre plant in Salinas and the Cambalache peak units in Arecibo would be shut down.