Puerto Rico hit with new outage as electricity begins to return

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 10, 2017 at 7:19 AM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Puerto Rico's electrical grid has suffered a new failure -- leaving thousands without power and less than half of the island will get it back Friday, officials said.

The failure in a 230-kilo-volt transmission line on Thursday, which was repaired after Hurricane Maria, changed power generation from about 40 percent of capacity to 18 percent, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said.

After Maria hit, 100 percent of the island had lost power. Thursday's failure came after significant repairs had been made and power restoration was nearing 50 percent.

Why the north-south transmission line, running from Arecibo to Manati, suddenly failed has not been determined. Suburbs of San Juan, including Manatí, Bayamón, Caguas, Guaynabo and Carolina, were affected by the power outage.

PREPA spokesman Carlos Monroig said 42 percent of power is expected to be restored by Friday.

The outage occurred on a transmission line repaired by Whitefish Energy, a U.S. company that received a $300 million contract, which was later canceled, to restore power on the island after the hurricane.

Whitefish spokesman Chris Chiames said the new outage doesn't have anything to do with the repairs his company performed.

Natalie Jeresko, executive director of Puerto Rico's federal oversight board, told the House Natural Resources committee Tuesday that the island will need between $13 billion and $21 billion over the next two years to keep the basic functions of government operating. She said about 60 percent of Puerto Rico was still without power, tens of thousands of homes lack roofs and about 100,000 residents have already left the island.

The new outage came on the same day the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it will airlift as many as 3,000 hurricane survivors who are still in shelters to the U.S. mainland.

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