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The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority wasn’t destined to fall $8.6 billion in debt, putting it on the cusp of the biggest default in U.S. municipal bond history. Reaching this point required a unique combination of bad decisions and poor execution. ‎A decades-long failure to wean itself from the use of expensive fuel oil has left the government-run utility with electric rates among the highest in the U.S. The result: On an island where about half the people live below the U.S. poverty line, the agency loses a sixth of its energy to theft and, at one point last year, was owed about $1.75 billion in unpaid customer bills.

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