Power restored to nearly all of Puerto Rico

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The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) on Monday announced that power has been restored to most of the island’s residents, eleven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the power grid. 

The restoration process faced a disturbance hours into the final restoration push when a power line went down on Monday afternoon, affecting customers in San Juan and other municipalities.  

Earlier in the day, PREPA had announced only .002 percent of its customers, or 25 people, remained without power. 

It is unclear how many customers lost power during the most recent outage. 

“We expect the remaining 25 customers to receive electricity within the coming weeks,” said Carlos Mercader, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, in a statement to The Hill prior to the San Juan outage. 

Mercader did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the most recent outage.
The country’s power grid has suffered since last September’s Category 5 hurricane, which has been blamed for the largest blackout in U.S. history and the second-largest in the world. The island last suffered a blackout in April. Since then, millions of customers have suffered from intermittent shortages. 

Thousands of customers still did not have power at the beginning of June.

The electric power company has faced intense scrutiny over its slow restoration of service, which did not kick into high gear until recent months.

Though experts and government officials are still debating the hurricane’s official death toll, many Puerto Ricans have reported that the lack of electricity exacerbated the crisis. 

“PREPA is in the process of transforming Puerto Rico’s electric grid into a more resilient, modern system,”  Mercader said. “Initially, we will phase out the use of diesel in favor of natural gas, which is cleaner and less costly. Moving forward, Governor [Ricardo] Rosselló has made the goal for 40 percent of power generation to come from renewable sources.” 

Mercader also said the governor hopes to “depoliticize PREPA while providing a better, cheaper service to consumers across Puerto Rico.” 

Many Puerto Ricans have also criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), saying it failed to provide adequate aid after the storm. A recent report from FEMA confirmed that the agency was underprepared and inconsistent in its response to the storm.

“FEMA leadership acknowledged that the Agency could have better anticipated that the severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria would cause long-term, significant damage to the territories’ infrastructure,” the report states.

“Leadership also recognized that emergency managers at all levels could have better leveraged existing information to proactively plan for and address such challenges, both before and immediately after the hurricanes.”

FEMA and PREPA have both claimed they are now better prepared for any hurricanes that might occur this season, according to CNN

Tags Federal Emergency Management Agency Hurricane Irma Hurricane Maria PREPA Puerto Rico

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