Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Power restored in Puerto Rico nearly five days after blackout

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A private company announced on 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 focussed 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 United States (US) territory.

“I know many in Puerto Rico are asking, ‘How is it that this happened?’” said CEO of Luma Wayne Stensby, 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.

Engineering Vice President Shay Bahramirad 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.

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