Puerto Rico hit by new power outage after repairs
Puerto Rico was hit with a new power outage Thursday after a major line failure left several cities, including the capital of San Juan, without power.
BuzzFeed News reported the line, which runs from Cambalache to Manatí, failed on Thursday, reducing Puerto Rico’s power generation capacity by 25 percent. Prior to the line’s failure, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said the territory’s power generation was at 43 percent capacity.
The power outage affected several major Puerto Rican cities, including San Juan. A reporter for The New York Times said Thursday that the lights had gone out at Puerto Rico’s federal emergency command center.
El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper, reported Thursday afternoon that the line was repaired by PREPA technicians.
A PREPA official told CNN that the outage “could have happened at any time.”
“It was a mechanical issue on the line, could have happened at any line,” Fernando Padilla said. “It’s being patrolled and repaired by PREPA.”
The line was originally repaired by Whitefish Energy, the tiny Montana company that was awarded a $300 million contract to help restore power in Puerto Rico. The company said the line was repaired as of Oct. 26 in an update posted to its Twitter account.
— Whitefish Energy (@WhitefishEnergy) October 27, 2017
In a statement to The Hill, Whitefish Energy said the outage had nothing to do with its previous repair work.
“None of the issues reported today with the outage have anything to do with the repairs Whitefish Energy performed,” the company said.
Puerto Rico canceled the contract with Whitefish Energy on Oct. 29 after controversy arose surrounding the deal.
At the time the storm hit the island, the energy company had only two full-time employees, and critics argued the company wasn’t properly staffed to handle the crisis in Puerto Rico.
The contract also came under fire because it contained provisions barring the government from reviewing labor costs or profits related to the company’s work in Puerto Rico.
The small energy company is located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but Zinke said he “had absolutely nothing to do” with the company receiving the contract.