The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority named 11 experts in grid reliability and restoration to a senior-level advisory council, part of a long-term effort to improve service, lower costs, and reduce prices.

Cris Eugster, chief operating officer of CPS Energy in San Antonio, will co-chair the panel, PREPA said Tuesday. The utility named the other co-chair, David Owens, on Nov. 20 when it announced the formation of Transformation Advisory Council. Owens recently retired as executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, an organization that oversees private sector electrical utilities.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has a $9 billion debt load.
The private sector delivered incident management teams on Dec. 9-10 to help restore the electrical grid in Puerto Rico.

PREPA is struggling to restore electrical power to Puerto Rico, where it is the only service provider, after Hurricane Maria hammered the island on Sept. 20. Restoration is vital to strengthening the economy of the island, whose government, authorities, municipalities, and public corporations owe about $72 billion in debt.

As of Tuesday 64% of the island’s electrical customers had service, according to the government.

The advisory council members are “experts in grid reliability and resilience, corporate restructuring, sustainability, island grids, public power, customer engagement, evolving regulatory frameworks for distributed energy resources, and the utility of the future,” PREPA said in a release.

“As its first area of engagement with PREPA, the TAC will serve as a sounding board on the fiscal plan being developed for submission to the Fiscal Oversight and Management Board by the December 22, 2017 deadline,” the authority said.

“We have an opportunity here, not just to restore power and emerge from bankruptcy, but also to establish a model for power generation and delivery in Puerto Rico that sets a global example for cost, resilience, sustainability, and customer engagement and empowerment,” Ernesto Sgroi Hernández, chair of the PREPA governing board, said in a press release. “In order to develop that model, PREPA will need to access best-in-class advice from leaders who have dealt with the complexities of utility transformation in their own jurisdictions.”

In addition to Eugster and Owens, the council will consist of:

  • Charlie Bayless, former chief executive officer of Illinois Power and Tucson Energy;
  • David Bissell, CEO of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative;
  • Sanjay Bose, vice president of Central Engineering of Consolidated Edison;
  • Terry Boston, director of Gridliance and former CEO of PJM and former executive vice president of the Tennessee Valley Authority;
  • Kyle Datta, general partner of the Ulupono Initiative;
  • Julia Hamm, CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance;
  • Robert Lurie, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the New York Power Authority;
  • Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Commonwealth Edison;
  • Tom Voss, chairman of Smart Wires and former chairman, president, and CEO of Ameren Corporation.

The authority’s island-based board of directors will continue to operate.

In other PREPA developments, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s office staff said Monday that the U.S. electric power industry had sent seven “incident management teams” to support the power restoration efforts. The teams are to work in seven island regions in coordination with local, federal, and private contractor personnel trying to restore the electric grid. They arrived Dec. 9-10.

The governor’s office staff also announced that the restoration plan for electrical service is being updated and that the update’s content will be announced next week.

As of Monday 3,500 workers were working to restore electrical service to the island.

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