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Puerto Rico shortlists Duke, Exelon, PSEG to manage island's grid

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has identified four entities that were deemed qualified to manage and operate "all aspects" of the transmission and distribution system of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, through a public-private partnership mechanism. The selection of the shortlisted companies progresses plans by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, of the conservative New Progressive Party, to privatize the island's public utility and modernize its electric system following the devastating September 2017 landfall of Hurricane Maria.

In a Jan. 17 announcement, the Puerto Rico Public Private Partnership, also known as the P3 Authority, named utilities Duke Energy Corp., Exelon Corp. and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. subsidiary PSEG Services Corp., as well as a consortium composed of energy solutions provider ATCO Ltd., security consulting company IEM Inc. and telecommunications and energy infrastructure solutions provider Quanta Services Inc., as the four "qualified proponents" of the PREPA transmission and distribution project.

"Now we begin the transformation of our energy system in the Island," P3 Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero said in a press release. "Under a public-private partnership we will be developing a system that responds to the real needs of our people, providing stability, reliability and efficiency to our Island's energy system."

PREPA Executive Director José Ortiz Vázquez said the market response to Puerto Rico's Oct. 31, 2018, request for qualifications for the P3 project was a very positive one. A total of five responses were received.

"Having four highly-qualified companies competing for this P3 project, speaks volumes about the confidence they have in Puerto Rico and about credibility of the process," Vázquez said. "This competition will bring opportunities for providing better costs and better and new services to our consumers."

The P3 Authority's partnership committee evaluated the statements of qualifications, including their financial, legal and technical aspects, as well as the companies' experience with managing and using federal disaster recovery funds. The P3 Authority now will send a request for proposals to the selected entities and expects to select the winning bidder sometime in the third quarter of 2019.