Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló pledged to have electrical service provided to 95% of customers by Dec. 15.

This would be a marked improvement on a statement made by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority executive director Ricardo Ramos Rodriguez on Sept. 27 that he expected it might take more than six months to restore all service.

Dec. 15 would be less than three months from when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico – Sept. 20. As of Sunday 15% of the island’s consumers had electrical service, according to staff at the governor’s office.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he sought to protect pensioners and the transportation system by putting two agencies into bankruptcy.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló unveiled an agressive timetable for restoring electrical service Saturday.

Additionally, Rosselló set goals of restoring 30% of electrical service by Oct. 30, 50% by Nov. 15, and 80% by Dec. 1, according to a statement from his office.

As of Saturday, the authority had 231 repair brigades of its own and help from 65 outside brigades from contractors. By Nov. 4 it expects to have a total of 940 brigades working on the service restoration.

Rosselló Saturday said that he expected the Federal Emergency Management Agency would deliver $128 million to PREPA for repair equipment and personnel. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was expected to hire some of the contracted brigades in the next two weeks.

Rosselló has asked FEMA and the Army Corps for additional funding for service restoration.

In other PREPA-related news, the plaintiffs in a Title III adversary complaint against PREPA dropped the suit Friday. Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp., Assured Guaranty Corp., Syncora Guarantee, National Public Finance Guarantee, and the Ad Hoc Group of PREPA Bondholders withdrew the case without prejudice. It was case number 17-0232 in U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico.

“PREPA’s focus right now should be on restoration of the power grid damaged by Hurricane Maria.” Assured Guaranty Ltd., holding company for AGM and Assured Guaranty Corp., said in a press release.

However, Assured Guaranty said it continued to “believe that the authority’s failure to apply its pledged revenues to the payment of its revenue bonds over the past three years is inconsistent with” U.S. bankruptcy code and the bond trustee agreement.

“We urge the [Puerto Rico] Oversight Board and PREPA to take this opportunity to work collaboratively with creditors, as we did previously, to produce a comprehensive reconstruction plan that ensures power is restored in Puerto Rico as soon as possible and that PREPA moves forward with a workable long-term development plan consensually with all stakeholders,” said Assured Guaranty president Dominic Frederico.

"Should PREPA fail to resume timely payment of its bonds, in accordance with the terms of the special revenue provisions, after restoration of the electrical system, the company will consider refiling this lawsuit at an appropriate time," Frederico said.

In still other news concerning the power authority, Rosselló released a report Saturday on a power plant with power that said the plant needs major restoration before reopening. The report by Island Structures Engineering, based in New York, was based on inspections of the Palo Seco Thermoelectric Plant before Hurricane Maria struck. The report was dated Aug. 25.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Palo Seco Power Plant in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico stands after Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island.
A report in August found the Palo Seco power plant needed substantial work before it would be safe for operation. Bloomberg News

The Palo Seco plant normally supplies Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan, and the surrounding region.

In the report, Island Structures said that the condition of much of the steel in the plant made the plant unsafe for use. Island Structures said substantial strengthening and other work should be completed before it reopens. It didn’t make an estimate as to how long these improvements would take.

Rosselló said that the Army Corps of Engineers arrived at Palo Seco Saturday. He didn’t clarify whether they were there to start the restoration work.

The Palo Seco plant is two to three miles from the border of San Juan.

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