Puerto Rico Restores Electricity After This Week's Outage
Electricity has been restored in Puerto Rico following an outage on Wednesday that left the island in darkness. It was the first island-wide blackout since Hurricane Maria swept through the U.S. territory in September.
A transmission line was accidentally damaged by an excavator, reported The Associated Press.
After the outage, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said that in trying to restore power, it would prioritize hospitals, a major airport, sewer and water pumping stations and banking centers.
By Thursday afternoon, the energy provider tweeted that service had been restored to 97 percent of its customers — the same level as before Wednesday's blackout. Some 40,000 people still lack regular electricity seven months after Hurricane Maria, according to the AP.
Following the outage, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called for the cancellation of a contract with D. Grimm, the subcontracting company responsible for the accident, reported El Nuevo Día.
The governor tweeted Wednesday:
I have suggested to the Board of @AEEONLINE that they cancel the contract with the Cobra subcontractor that is directly responsible for this power outage. This is the second power failure that has affected the people of Puerto Rico in less than two weeks.— Ricardo Rosselló (@ricardorossello) April 18, 2018
D. Grimm was also blamed for a power failure the previous week, when a single tree fell on a transmission line as crews were clearing a forested area to access utility poles with transmission lines. In an effort to restore power to people after the hurricane, the subcontractor inadvertently cut electricity to half the island's population.
Justo González, head of PREPA, told The New York Times that D. Grimm had been fired. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
All of Puerto Rico could have its energy restored by late May, according to an AP report citing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps announced in early April that it would provide additional resources to expand power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico, increasing an existing contract by $140.5 million, to $510.6 million.
Not everyone in Puerto Rico is waiting for authorities to strengthen the island's fragile infrastructure. In January, one family started building a solar power system which kept their lights on during Wednesday's outage, CNN reported.
This year's Atlantic hurricane season starts in June and ends in November.