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Puerto Rico converts energy sector reform into law

May 27, 2014

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor signed a law Tuesday intended to revamp the U.S. territory’s power company amid complaints of corruption and costly bills.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the law also seeks to increase the use of natural gas and renewable energy sources, with Puerto Rico currently depending on oil to generate nearly 70 percent of its electricity.

The law calls on the state Electric Energy Authority to review its rates within six months, a measure applauded by many in Puerto Rico, where power bills average more than twice those on the U.S. mainland.

Juan Alicea, the agency’s executive director, pledged last month to lower the current charge of 27 cents per kilowatt hour to 16 cents by 2019.

A new commission also will be established to oversee the state power agency, which has long been criticized for operating without any type of oversight.

Officials with Puerto Rico’s Justice Department recently raided the agency’s offices and seized documents and computers as part of an investigation into fuel purchases in recent years.

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