February 4, 2023

More than a million people have been left without electricity due to a major power outage in Puerto Rico

At least 1.2 million electricity customers in Puerto Rico were left without electricity on Thursday afternoon, with an overnight fire at a major power plant causing the biggest blackout across the U.S. this year, forcing classes to close and government offices to close.

Outraged by this malfunction, the Puerto Ricans are already frustrated with the electrical system Destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Emergency repairs were made at the time, but the reconstruction and Modernization is essential work The island’s oldest and most unreliable power grid has not yet begun. Electricity officials blame aging and poorly maintained infrastructure for the power outage.

The two companies responsible for providing electricity services to the 3.2 million Puerto Rican population have not been able to say for sure when electricity will be fully restored or what caused the circuit-breaker failure at one of the four main plants, the Costa Sir plant. Island, which provoked massive darkness.

Luma Energy, a Canadian-American private company Took over the energy transfer and distribution of Puerto Rico Last year, he said his team had been working tirelessly to restore service. Until Thursday afternoon, at least 300,000 customers If only they had regained power, but restoration efforts. “May extend to Thursday and Friday in some places.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, pedestrians walk down a dark street Wednesday after a massive power outage that struck the island.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP – Getty Images

Puerto Rico Electricity Authority, The Bankrupt public company The island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra are fully responsible for controlling the power generation units.Submarine cable.

The resistor went out About 180,000 customers without water And there was traffic congestion all over the island, where the roar of generators and the smell of diesel filled the air.

NBC’s sister station Telemundo Puerto Rico announced late Thursday morning that it had run out of fuel at eight gas stations on the island following a rush by consumers to get fuel for power generators.

In A press conference On Thursday evening, government officials said the island had enough fuel for 60 days.

‘This is horrible’

Those who cannot afford generators and have medical conditions such as refrigerated insulin-dependent diabetes are worried about how long we will be without electricity.

“It’s terrible,” said Louisa Rosado, a mother of two living in Rio Pietro, a neighboring area of ​​San Juan. Puerto Ricans Already have to pay almost twice The size of the customer base in the US Incredible electricity.

“Increase bills when you do not provide a proper service … The level of impunity is absurd,” Rosado said.

Kevin Azevedo, vice president of Luma Energy, said, “The system is recovering a little bit,” and Kevin Azevedo said the company is trying to get the job done within 24 hours.

“The people of Puerto Rico need to understand that this is a multi-year organization,” Acevedo said. “Bringing back the structure of Puerto Rico is a delicate and complex process.”

Azevedo said a “thorough investigation” was underway to determine the cause of the circuit breaker fire at the damaged power plant, and that the equipment there was “properly maintained”.

Officials say at least three generations of units have returned online by Thursday, and teams are working to recover more.

The crash happened two months before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which worries many about the state of Puerto Rico’s power grid.

“The people of Puerto Rico need to understand that this is an organization that has been around for many years,” Acevedo said. “The system is fragile. No one denies it, but we are ready.”

The federal government has already provided $ 12 billion in federal assistance to restructure Puerto Rico’s energy sector. According to LUMA, a portion of that money is currently being used to replace outdated breakers such as the one that caught fire at the Costa Sir manufacturing plant.

A Press conference Thursday afternoon Outside the damaged power plant, a LUMA official said many of the replacement brakes were over 40 years old – although the lifespan of this equipment is typically 30 years.

One highlights the light of his mobile phone while the other reads from a notebook in San Juan.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP – Getty Images

In 2020, a A series of strong earthquakes The attack on southern Puerto Rico, where the Costa Sur plant is located, also damaged it.

The Electricity Authority is trying to restructure $ 9 billion worth of public debt from a long bankruptcy. The company has been battling corruption, mismanagement and lack of maintenance for decades.

In June last year, hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity in a major fire at a substation in the capital, San Juan. Another fire at the power plant in September 2016 caused a power outage across the island.

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Associated Press Contributed.