October 24, 2019 / 10:27 PM / 20 days ago

Puerto Rico unveils $20 billion plan to revamp island's power grid

FILE PHOTO: Wanda Vazquez, former Secretary of Justice, is sworn in as Governor of Puerto Rico after Pedro Pierluisi's former oath was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Gabriella N. Baez/File Photo

(Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s undependable power network would be modernized and decentralized under a $20.3 billion, 10-year plan announced on Thursday by government officials of the bankrupt U.S. commonwealth.

The so-called GridMod plan, developed with federal, local and private sector input, targets repair and reconstruction measures designed to strengthen the network and ensure its resilience against natural disasters like the devastating hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico in 2017, according to a statement from Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced’s office.

“The GridMod Plan will provide the safe, modern and resilient electricity network that our communities need and deserve,” the governor said, adding that an improved power network will help boost the island’s economy.

Puerto Rico and its electric power authority known as PREPA filed for bankruptcy in 2017 just months before hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the power grid.

Federal funding would cover about $13 billion of the plan, which also calls for private investment, according to the governor’s statement.

The plan recommends a transformation to a decentralized electricity network, incorporating renewable energy and micro-networks to improve reliability and avoid blackouts during catastrophic events.

Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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