How Walla Walla Corps of Engineers is helping in Puerto Rico

20 April, 2018, 01:45 | Author: Conrad Doyle
  • Puerto Rico back in darkness after island-wide blackout

The entire island of Puerto Rico lost power on Wednesday. The outage last Thursday was set off when a tree limb fell on a power line as the contractor cleared land in central Puerto Rico and a backup line failed.

More than 1.4 million Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority's (PREPA) customers lost electrical power and by 8 p.m. Wednesday only 334,000 had regained power.

It was only a few hours later that an excavator working near a fallen 140-foot transmission tower on the southern part of the island got too close to a high-voltage line. The last outage, that occurred a week ago, affected 870,000 residents. Officials say it will take 24 to 36 hours to restore power after a blackout hit the entire island. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the federal power restoration efforts, said they hope to have the entire island fully energized by May.

Gonzalez said it is possible that only 1 to 2 percent of customers had power after the incident, as compared to 92.7 percent before the outage.

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Justo González, an executive deputy director of the power authority, said Wednesday that the blackout was caused by a private contractor when a bulldozer downed a transmission line while trying to remove a collapsed tower.

"This is unacceptable for us", he said, adding that government attorneys were meeting with officials at Cobra Energy, a Mammoth Energy subsidiary. The equipment was being operated by a subcontractor for Cobra Acquisitions.

The game is expected to create a $17 million impact to the island, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

It is the first island-wide power outage since the storm.

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"This is all very worrisome, obviously, as we approach another hurricane season", said Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

While Puerto Rico had been hit with several major blackouts in the hurricane's wake, Wednesday marked the first time power was knocked out to the entire island since the vicious Category 4 hurricane made landfall on September 20.

Puerto Rico's decision to award a no-bid $300 million contact to the two-person Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC to conduct fix work to the island's electric grid set off alarm bells in Washington as calls for investigations into the deal intensified among both Democrats and Republicans.

The latest blackout prompted Gov. Ricardo Rossello to call on PREPA to cancel its contract with the subcontractor.

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