Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 28, 2017.
The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 28, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:23
Energy contract in Puerto Rico under scrutiny
Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, on September 12, 2018.
Julian Quiñones/CNN
Stacks upon stacks of bottled water sit near a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, on September 12, 2018.
Now playing
02:42
See untouched water bottles in Puerto Rico
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15:  Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15: Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:39
Puerto Rico revises Hurricane Maria death toll
title:  duration: 00:00:00 site:  author:  published:  intervention: yes description: Radio Isla had access to vans that contained water, food, medicine and hundreds of open boxes, many of them with reptile waste and in a state of decomposition. According to sources, the supplies were for the victims of the hurricanes.
Radio Isla
title: duration: 00:00:00 site: author: published: intervention: yes description: Radio Isla had access to vans that contained water, food, medicine and hundreds of open boxes, many of them with reptile waste and in a state of decomposition. According to sources, the supplies were for the victims of the hurricanes.
Now playing
01:24
Supplies sent to Puerto Rico found abandoned
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images/File
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:47
Possible epidemic in Puerto Rico after Maria hit
CNN
Now playing
02:04
Suspected deadly bacteria cases in Puerto Rico (2017)
With hurricane season starting June 1, CNN returns to Puerto Rico to see if the island is ready for another storm. Nine months after Maria, 20,000 homes are still without power- and going into the season, many mayors are worried that even a small storm will plunge them back into darkness and repeat the crisis all over again. We witness desperate Puerto Ricans illegally and dangerously turning on their own power, and press officials for answers on what will change this time around.
CNN
With hurricane season starting June 1, CNN returns to Puerto Rico to see if the island is ready for another storm. Nine months after Maria, 20,000 homes are still without power- and going into the season, many mayors are worried that even a small storm will plunge them back into darkness and repeat the crisis all over again. We witness desperate Puerto Ricans illegally and dangerously turning on their own power, and press officials for answers on what will change this time around.
Now playing
01:05
Questions surround Hurricane Maria death toll
Guest: Mayor Carmen Cruz from San Juan, PR (Facetime) Anderson in Studio 73 / Control 71 (channel 67)   Please record CTL 7100 Switched Please record CTL 7103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 7138 AC ISO Please record CTL 7139 Splits Please record CTL 7140 Big Smalls Please record GFX 905 Cruz ISO
CNN
Guest: Mayor Carmen Cruz from San Juan, PR (Facetime) Anderson in Studio 73 / Control 71 (channel 67) Please record CTL 7100 Switched Please record CTL 7103 Clean Switched Please record CTL 7138 AC ISO Please record CTL 7139 Splits Please record CTL 7140 Big Smalls Please record GFX 905 Cruz ISO
Now playing
01:59
San Juan mayor: Trump showed terrible neglect
CNN
Now playing
01:58
CNN anchor presses PR governor on death count
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05:  Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images
SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 05: Kids bike in an area without grid power or running water about two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through the island on October 5, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:36
Puerto Ricans repair power lines themselves
ricardo rossello
CNN
ricardo rossello
Now playing
02:13
Rossello: Hell to pay if data not available
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20:  A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images/File
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - DECEMBER 20: A resident, whose home remains without electricity, watches as debris is removed on December 20, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Barely three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, approximately one-third of the devastated island is still without electricity and 14 percent lack running water. While the official death toll from the massive storm remains at 64, The New York Times recently reported the actual toll for the storm and its aftermath likely stands at more than 1,000. Puerto Rico's governor has ordered a review and recount as the holiday season approaches. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:20
Study: Puerto Rico hurricane death toll near 5,000
A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority brigade work in a remote off-road location to repair a downed power transmission line in Ponce, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority brigade work in a remote off-road location to repair a downed power transmission line in Ponce, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage
Blue tarps are still the only roofs for some homes in Corozal.
Leyla Santiago/CNN
Blue tarps are still the only roofs for some homes in Corozal.
Now playing
02:46
Puerto Rico 6 months after Hurricane Maria
CNN
Now playing
03:47
Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria
CNN
Now playing
03:45
Hurricane Maria evacuees living in FL motels

Story highlights

Governor recommends engineer Justo Gonzalez as interim director

Large parts of island have struggled with no power since Hurricane Maria hit

(CNN) —  

The embattled head of Puerto Rico’s power authority stepped down Friday, nearly two months after Hurricane Maria left much of the island without electricity.

Ricardo Ramos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, submitted his resignation to the bankrupt utility’s board. It was effective immediately, according to PREPA.

He stepped down days after the island’s governor declared that power generation had reached 50% capacity, only to see an outage leave parts of San Juan without power for hours. It was the second outage in as many weeks.

Ricardo Ramos took over the embattled Puerto Rican utility last year.
ALVIN BAEZ/REUTERS/Newscom
Ricardo Ramos took over the embattled Puerto Rican utility last year.

PREPA’s statement did not say why the man who took over the utility last year was resigning.

Ramos, in a brief video posted on the utility’s Twitter account late Friday afternoon, was vague on the reason for his resignation. He said it was a personal decision unrelated to recent media coverage. PREPA, he added, remains on track to fully restoring power.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló posted articles on Twitter about an event he attended on Friday after which he told reporters that Ramos had become a “distraction” and his tenure “unsustainable.”

In a statement on Twitter, Rosselló did not give a reason for Ramos’ departure. He said he was recommending the appointment of engineer Justo Gonzalez as interim director in order to begin the search for Ramos’ replacement.

’PREPA problem is bigger than Ramos’

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a frequent critic of recovery efforts, said on Twitter: “That Ricardo Ramos does not head PREPA is the right thing. That he helped destroy the credibility of the PR government is a disgrace.”

Dr. Domingo Marqués, a clinical psychologist whose San Juan home has been without power since the storm, welcomed the resignation as “the dignified thing to do” but said it brought “even more uncertainly” to the lives of Puerto Ricans.

“The PREPA problem is bigger than Ramos, and there is little to no clear strategy to manage the problem,” he told CNN.

“It still feels like every time we have answers, they change the questions.”

Joaquin Villamil, chairman and CEO of Estudios Tecnicos, an economic consulting firm in San Juan, said Ramos inherited a power company in dire financial straits and plagued by an outdated transmission network.

“Mr. Ramos was … a very competent technician, but that does not mean he was a very competent administrator unfortunately,” Villamil told CNN.

“He came into a situation which was almost impossible for any one person to deal successfully with, and then the hurricane made it all the worse.”

Unclear how many homes have power

Rosselló has promised that 95% of the island will have power by mid December.

On Friday, some 58 days after the storm, power generation was 44.7% of capacity, according to PREPA. The governor had said he expected to reach 80% by the end of November.

But it’s unclear how many homes and businesses that power is reaching. And it’s uncertain how many of the US territory’s roughly 3.4 million citizens remain without power as they struggle through Maria’s aftermath.

PREPA faced widespread criticism for signing a $300 million contract to restore power with Whitefish Energy, a small Montana-based firm with only two employees at the time of the contract.

Attorneys for the PREPA advised the utility to make critical changes to the contract it was negotiating with Whitefish to ensure it was compliant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s provisions, according to documents released by the House Committee on Natural Resources late Monday.

But the warnings went unheeded and PREPA pressed ahead with the October deal – disregarding lawyers’ recommendations, including terms for canceling the contract, ceiling prices and breach of contract.

The public utility company agreed to cancel the contract shortly afterward amid public outcry.

“I chose to contract with Whitefish because my priority was securing the immediate assistance that we needed to begin restoring power as quickly as possible to our most critical customers,” Ramos said in prepared testimony this week at a Senate hearing.

The island’s emergency management director resigned one week ago as Puerto Rico slowly recovers from the devastating hurricane.

In announcing the resignation of Abner Gómez, Rosselló praised the work of his emergency management chief following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which both hit in September.

The emergency management director came under fire after the island’s El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported he took a two-week vacation shortly after Maria made landfall on September 20.

CNN’s Leyla Santiago and Khushbu Shah reported from San Juan, while Ray Sanchez wrote and reported from New York.