San Juan blackout exposes chaos in restoration of Puerto Rico’s electrical service

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San Juan blackout exposes chaos in restoration of Puerto Rico’s electrical service

By
Rafael Azul

14 November 2017

Last week’s power outage in Puerto Rico makes clear that efforts to restore the island’s decimated electricity system remain in chaos some eight weeks after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island on September 20.

On Thursday, November 9, there was a power outage in San Juan, Puerto Rico that left hundreds of thousands in darkness, many of whom had had power restored only days before.

The island’s public electricity company (AEE) indicated that power delivery plummeted from 40 percent (leaving 60 percent of households still without power) to 18.3 percent (81.7 percent of users without power), due to a failure of a 230-volt transmission line that runs along the northern coast connecting Arecibo and the San Juan Metropolitan area (including the municipalities of Manatí, Bayamón, Caguas, Guaynabo and Carolina).

The problem was with a failure on a main north-south transmission line, said Fernando Padilla, an AEE official. “It was a mechanical issue on the line, could have happened at any line,” admitted Padilla. “It’s being patrolled and repaired by the AEE.”

It is reported that the Montana-based firm Whitefish Energy had recently repaired this power line that, in turn, was part of one of the main power lines that connects the southern part of the island, where most of the power is generated, to the north, where most of the power is consumed.

Whitefish is the controversial firm that—with only two full-time employees—recently signed a $300 million-plus contract that may have involved cronyism with Trump officials. Since its public exposure, the contract has been cancelled and the firm is under investigation.

The New York Times reported Monday…

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