Troubled Puerto Rico utility seeks power bill increase, sparking outrage

san juan puerto rico elp

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's heavily indebted electric company is seeking a more than 20 percent increase in the island's already high power bills, sparking outrage among many.

The Electric Power Authority said Tuesday the increase would let it keep operating amid a cash crunch. The agency said the revenue also would help restructure a $9 billion debt load, reduce dependence on petroleum and renovate obsolete infrastructure.

The agency seeks a temporary 10 percent increase for residential customers that would become effective in August and an overall 23 percent permanent hike for early 2017. A commission is expected to vote on the proposal. But if it doesn't act, the temporary increase goes into effect automatically.

Puerto Rico electric bills are on average twice those of the U.S. mainland.

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