Puerto Rico’s governor announced that three massive generators were sent by the United States to the island to stabilize the country’s electric grid. This will help to minimize future outages.
Governor Pierluisi said that the generators will provide 150 megawatts more power and that additional generators from the U.S. are expected to be shipped soon. This will give them a total of 250 megawatts. Pedro Pierluisi said.
Officials stated that crews would install the generators prior to the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1.
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Nancy Casper, a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinator, said, “It’s just the first step in a very complicated process.”
FEMA will pay 90% and Puerto Rico the remaining 10% in accordance with a deal last year. However, both Pierluisi and Casper said that the final cost of the project is not yet known as it depends on how long the generators are operating.
Puerto Rico has just recently begun permanent repairs to its aging power grid that was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Power outages have been a regular occurrence on the island of 3.2 millions people since then.
According to the Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank, only 18 permanent projects worth $88 million were completed by the federal government as of March. The federal government has spent $12 billion on grid reconstruction.
In a Thursday analysis, the center stated that it would take more than 100 years to rebuild the Puerto Rico electric grid.
Hurricane Fiona, a Category-1 storm that struck Puerto Rico’s southwest in September 2022, further weakened the power grid. The hurricane caused an island-wide blackout that resulted in more than $3 billion of damage to the electric system.
Casper stated that the temporary generation was crucial for the new generators.
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Crews will be able to temporarily turn off power to substations, transformers, and breakers for repairs that could last anywhere from 12-18 months.
The power grid of Puerto Rico was already in trouble before Hurricane Maria. Officials blame decades of neglect and mismanagement. The average age of its generation units is 45 years, which is twice the age of those on the U.S. mainland.
As Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority struggles with restructuring more than $9 billion of debt, it is causing grid problems. This agency is the largest government agency. Despite six years of bitter negotiations, the majority of creditors have not reached a settlement with a federal board that oversees the island’s finances.
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The island’s power company had privatized its transmission and distribution operations in June 2020. In January it announced that it had chosen a private company for the operation and maintenance of its generation units.