Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout

Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout
© Getty Images

The blackout caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the United States’ largest in history, according to a new report.

Economic consulting firm Rhodium Group determined in a Thursday report that Maria caused 1.25 billion hours of electricity supply disruption to households, the most in recorded history.

The research was based on data kept by the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.


“We can find no event in recorded U.S. history where there were as many people without power for as long as has occurred over the past month in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the group said in its report.

Puerto Rico’s blackout has been exacerbated by the poor state of the island’s electric infrastructure prior to Maria, which struck the territory on Sept. 20.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the government-owned electric utility, has gotten national attention in recent days over a $300 million repair contract it signed with Whitefish Energy, a Montana company with only two employees prior to the storm and connections to Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West MORE.

About 75 percent of the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico are currently without power, a number that fluctuates as infrastructure is restored and breaks down.

Meanwhile, the Virgin Islands are doing just as badly, if not worse. St. John has no utility electricity, as does 98 percent of St. Croix and 71 percent of St. Thomas.

The size of Maria’s blackout edged out that caused by Hurricane Georges in 1998, which caused 1.1 billion hours of electricity disruptions.

Hurricane Irma, which hit shortly before Maria, ranks fourth in Rhodium’s list, with 753 million hours.