Power restored in Puerto Rico nearly 5 days after blackout

Apr 11, 2022, 1:43 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm
Traffic lights are out of service on a street in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early Thursday, April 7, 20...

Traffic lights are out of service on a street in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early Thursday, April 7, 2022. More than a million customers in Puerto Rico remained without electricity on Thursday after a fire at a main power plant caused the biggest blackout so far this year across the U.S. territory, forcing it to cancel classes and shutter government offices. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A private company announced Monday that power had been fully restored to Puerto Rico’s almost 1.5 million customers nearly five days after a fire at a main power plant sparked an island-wide blackout and prompted public schools and government agencies to close.

Officials are now focused on investigating what exactly caused the failure of a circuit breaker at a substation within the Costa Sur power plant in southern Puerto Rico, one of four main plants in the U.S. territory.

“I know many in Puerto Rico are asking, ‘How is it that this happened?'” said Wayne Stensby, CEO of Luma, a company that took over transmission and distribution for the Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority last year. “There’s no question the electricity grid in Puerto Rico is incredibly fragile.”

The blackout outraged and worried many on the island of 3.2 million people, including those who cannot afford generators and have medical conditions including diabetes and respiratory issues that depend on electricity for their treatments.

The outage snarled traffic, shuttered businesses and forced some people to sleep outdoors given the heat.

Customers angry over the extended outage noted they have been hit with recent increases in their power bills, and people complained the blackout damaged electrical appliances and forced them to throw out groceries as the island struggles to emerge from a more than decade-long economic crisis.

Gary Soto, director of Luma project system operations, said another outage occurred just days after the blackout that affected 25% of customers due to a new failure at another power plant involving a boiler that crews had recently repaired.

Shay Bahramirad, an engineering vice president, said a third party will look into the failure of the circuit breaker, noting that the blackout occurred 19 seconds after the initial fault was recorded. She said equipment at the power plant where the fire occurred dates from 1969 to the mid-1970s, although she declined to provide details including maintenance records on the failed circuit breaker, saying it would be taken out of context.

It was not immediately known what maintenance, if any, Luma had performed on the circuit breaker once it took over operations of Puerto Rico’s transmission and distribution last June.

When asked several times whether maintenance on the circuit breaker was delayed, the company’s CEO said, “We are not going to speculate.” Stensby said independent third parties would be responsible for the investigation and the structural testing and engineering design to rebuild the damaged area.

The outage comes as Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Company tries to emerge from a bankruptcy-like process and restructure some $9 billion in debt. The utility has long struggled with corruption, mismanagement and a lack of investment in the electric grid, which Hurricane Maria razed in 2017. Emergency repairs were made at the time, but reconstruction projects have yet to start.

In addition, a series of strong earthquakes that hit southern Puerto Rico in late 2019 and early 2020 damaged the Costa Sur plant and other infrastructure.

Prior to Hurricane Maria, a fire at another power plant sparked an island-wide blackout in September 2016. A large fire in June last year at a substation in the capital of San Juan left hundreds of thousands of clients without power.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Some 25 tractors parked outside a distribution center for supermarket chain Albert Heijn during a b...
Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

ZAANDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its terminals […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Iran TV: Sandstorm shuts offices, schools in Tehran, region

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Schools and government offices closed in Iran’s capital and several other cities in the country on Monday, after yet another sandstorm blanketed Tehran and the surrounding region. State-run TV warned of poor air quality and advised the elderly, those sick and children to take precautions. Banks and the Tehran Stock Exchange […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire talks to reporters outside the Internation...
Associated Press

Canadian government: Tycoon in China due to stand trial

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon is being put on trial in China, Canada’s government said Monday, five years after he vanished from Hong Kong during an anti-corruption crackdown. Xiao Jianhua was due to stand trial Monday, a government statement said. It said Canadian diplomats were “monitoring this case closely” and provided unspecified services […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Data puts Turkey’s annual inflation at 78.6%, a 24-year high

ISTANBUL (AP) — Annual inflation in Turkey hit 78.62% in June, the highest rate since 1998, according to official data released Monday. The Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, released the monthly figures as Turkey is experiencing a deepening cost-of-living crisis. Consumer prices rose by 4.95% on a monthly basis, the institute reported. While many countries […]
3 hours ago
A person walks past a notice for customers posted on the entrance of an "au" mobile brand operator ...
Associated Press

Outages disrupt services at Japan’s No. 2 telecoms carrier

TOKYO (AP) — Many users of Japan’s No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp. were still having trouble making calls Monday after a massive outage throughout the weekend that affected nearly 40 million people, disrupting deliveries, weather reports and other services across the country. The company said data transmission had largely been restored by Monday morning, […]
3 hours ago
Residential properties and roads are submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River i...
Associated Press

3 feet of rain sets up 4th round of flood misery for Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — More than 30,000 residents of Sydney and its surrounds were told to evacuate or prepare to abandon their homes Monday as Australia’s largest city faces its fourth, and possibly worst, round of flooding in less than a year and a half. Days of torrential rain caused dams to overflow and waterways to […]
3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Power restored in Puerto Rico nearly 5 days after blackout