Karina Santiago González works at a small power plant in Morovis, Puerto Rico, in December 2017. (Carlos Giusti / Associated Press)
Some 840,000 people throughout Puerto Rico were without electricity on Thursday while the territory of I know. UU He continues to fight after the destruction of Hurricane Maria last fall, according to the island's Electric Power Authority.
The power company, in a series of tweets on Thursday, said a tree had fallen on the main line that supplied power to the capital of San Juan and its surrounding communities along the northern coast and toward the southeast part of the island. The tree fell when the crews were clearing the land in Cayey, a mountain town in southeastern Puerto Rico, as part of an energy restoration project following the hurricane.
It is the last point of frustration for Puerto Ricans, who have dealt with the breakdown of the power line several times in recent months. Since the hurricane broke off from the southeast corner of the island through the central mountains and the northwest coast six months ago, a group of communities near Cayey remains powerless. Throughout the rest of the island, more than 1,200 generators provided by FEMA remain the main source of energy for hospitals, more than two dozen police and fire stations, prisons and water pumps.
The blackouts are common: one in the middle of February caused by an explosion of a power point left almost a million in San Juan without electricity. The worst thing is that another hurricane season is approaching, just a few months away.
The power slowly began to return to various parts of San Juan on Thursday afternoon, said the mayor of the capital, Carmen Yulín Cruz, in a tweet . The backup generators fed the main public hospital and the international airport of Puerto Rico.
The acting director of the electric company, Justo González, estimated that it could take up to 11 hours for the energy to be completely restored on the island.
The same line that was "fixed" by Whitefish, "the mayor tweeted, referring to Whitefish Energy, a small Montana company that won Puerto Rico's largest contract to restore power.
The contract was canceled after lawmakers questioned how the company, which had only two employees at the time of the storm, claimed that it brought hundreds of workers and 2,500 tons of equipment to the island for electrical repairs.
On Wednesday, federal officials said at a congressional hearing that hopes to implement a plan for June to strengthen and stabilize Puerto Rico's power grid before the next hurricane season, according to the Associated Press.The estimated initial cost to rebuild the network is $ 17.6 billion, although that number could change.
Bruce Walker, deputy secretary of the US Department of Energy, said at the hearing that the functions Arios are exploring renewable energy sources and building industrial micro-sites, the AP reported. Puerto Rico depends on imported fuel, and manufacturing accounts for 50 percent of its economy.
The teams have also installed concrete poles, among other solutions, in order to strengthen the system.
"Those are very, very quick wins," Walker said, according to the AP. "We did not just build a network during the night."
The federal government will assume 90 percent of the cost of permanent work in the power grid, according to a senior FEMA official, the AP reported. On Tuesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that as much as $ 2 billion of $ 18.5 billion in disaster recovery grants intended to rebuild the island will also go to the network.