Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced that José Ortiz, who has experience at the territory's electrical and water utilities, would be the new executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Ortiz is the fifth leader announced to run PREPA in 17 months and, assuming he starts work as planned on Monday, will be the fourth leader to actually run it in that period.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has a $9 billion debt load.
Newly named PREPA executive director José Ortiz has substantial experience leading PREPA and the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

Last week the PREPA board announced that Rafael Díaz Granados would succeed Walter Higgins as PREPA executive director. A day later, under pressure from Rosselló over Díaz Granados’s planned $750,000 salary, Díaz Granados withdrew his claim on the position and resigned along with four other members from the PREPA board of directors. The resigning directors complained about the politicization of the authority.

“The main reason for recommending Ortiz was his firm commitment to our public policy of transforming PREPA,” said the governor, who has plans to privatize parts of the authority.

Ortiz is to earn $250,000 per year.

From 2011 to 2013 Ortiz was the chairman of the PREPA board of directors. The authority was working on converting generating units to natural gas from oil. He also worked on large-scale renewable energy projects.

From 2004 to 2007 Ortiz was executive director PRASA where he oversaw the investment of $2.3 billion for the design and construction of new water treatment plants. From 2007 to 2013 he worked as executive president of PRASA. There he worked on PRASA’s financial challenges and negotiated three consent decrees with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

From 2009 to 2013 Ortiz served as the president of the Interagency Committee of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The committee supervised the funds received under the Great Recession law. It oversaw the investment of $7.2 billion.

Ortiz studied electrical engineering at the University of Puerto Rico. He holds a masters’ degree in business administration from University of Turabo, which is located in the territory.

Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of the Puerto Rico Senate, praised Ortiz's appointment. “You can count on his capacity, his experience, his maturity, and most-of-all his commitment to Puerto Rico.”

Outgoing PREPA executive director Walter Higgins has said he will work through this Sunday.

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