GLOBAL ECONOMY

Puerto Rico Gov. García Padilla supports privatization of island's power production

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his budget address on April 30, 2015.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his budget address on April 30, 2015.

Puerto Rico's governor said Wednesday that he supports privatizing electricity production in the U.S. territory as officials seek to restructure the island's troubled public power company.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla told reporters that he is fine with the idea of privatization as long as there are no layoffs at the publicly owned Electric Energy Authority and if it will help lower electricity bills.

"These are measures that have never been ruled out," he said. "The authority's transformation has to be a profound one."

Puerto Rico depends heavily on petroleum, and the island's power bills are on average twice that of the U.S. mainland.

Gov. Garcia Padilla stressed that he still opposes complete privatization of the island's power company.

He spoke just days after officials submitted a restructuring plan to creditors with proposals including public-private partnerships to help rescue the state company, which has more than $9 billion in debts.

Creditors and government officials are negotiating over the plan as a deadline looms for Puerto Rico to make a roughly $400 million payment to the utility's investors in July. Experts have warned that the government likely does not have the money to make that payment.

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