(Updates with more detail, comment)
NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said on Wednesday it named former General Electric executive Rafael Diaz-Granados as its new chief executive effective July 15, replacing Walter Higgins who will remain a member of the board.
Diaz-Granados was an independent member of the deeply indebted utility’s board of governors since July 29, 2017.
PREPA’s is in the process of trying to restructure itself while also restoring and upgrading the island’s electric grid. Its operations were completely knocked out by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, exposing years of poor maintenance and management.
The utility has patched together most of the system but remains years away from making the fundamental improvements needed to enable it to withstand another hurricane.
PREPA has more than $14 billion in liabilities which it cannot pay and is going through a privatization process.
“Under Diaz-Granados’ leadership, the Authority will continue to improve itself to provide energy reliability to each Puerto Rican and prepare for privatization,” Ernesto Sgroi Hernández, president of the utility’s board of directors said in the statement.
Diaz-Granados’ salary is set at $750,000 a year, which the board says is consistent with compensation in the sector for a company of this size and complexity.
The statement said Higgins’ decision to step down was mutually agreed with the board and did not include any payment or bonus. (Reporting by Daniel Bases and Rodrigo Campos Editing by Marguerita Choy)