Major power outage leaves 350,000 Puerto Ricans in the dark

Major power outage leaves 350,000 Puerto Ricans in the dark

LUMA said it was investigating the outage that coincided with the shutdown of units operated by Genera PR, which operates and maintains state power generation units. AP Photo/Alejandro Granadillo, File.

By Associated Press

June 13, 2024

LUMA Energy confirmed the outage was tied to an issue with the power plants’ transmission lines.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A widespread power outage hit Puerto Rico Wednesday night, leaving more than 350,000 customers without electricity after two power plants shut down.

The capital of San Juan was left without power, as well as neighboring municipalities including Bayamón, Caguas, and Carolina.

RELATED: Puerto Rico Extends LUMA’s Contract Despite Strong Opposition

Luma Energy, which operates transmission and distribution for Puerto Rico’s power authority, said on X that the outage was tied to an issue with the power plants’ transmission lines. It provided a statement saying it was investigating the outage that coincided with the shutdown of units operated by Genera PR, which operates and maintains state power generation units.

The president of LUMA Energy, Juan Saca, held a press conference on Thursday morning and indicated that the vegetation was the cause of leaving thousands of subscribers without electricity.

The president of LUMA Energy, Juan Saca, held a press conference on Thursday morning and indicated that the vegetation was the cause of leaving thousands of subscribers without electricity.

“In this case, line 39000, which is a fairly long line, had a breakdown in two places due to the vegetation issue,” Saca said, after a meeting he had in La Fortaleza.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi condemned the outage and said he was demanding answers and solutions from Luma and Genera PR.

“The events that have been occurring in recent weeks with our electrical system are unacceptable,” he posted on X. “While it is true that we have old plants and transmission lines in terrible condition, the people continue to suffer the consequences of the lack of sense of urgency that private operators are demonstrating.”

Both Luma and Genera PR were selected as private operators under Pierluisi’s administration.

The outage is the most recent in a string of blackouts to hit Puerto Rico, which is still trying to rebuild the grid after Hurricane Maria razed it in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

Since last week, towns in central and southern Puerto Rico have been struggling to emerge from a prolonged power outage that forced authorities to activate an emergency response team last Monday, as they requested food distribution to those in need.

The outage prompted the mayor of the San Juan capital, Miguel Romero, to declare a state of emergency late Wednesday as he accused Luma of sharing limited information about the ongoing blackouts.

“There are thousands of children with specific feeding needs, as well as older adults who often need therapy machines to protect their health and often save their lives,” the decree stated.

Scores of Puerto Ricans took to social media to condemn the most recent outage and demand the ouster of Luma, noting that it occurred amid excessive heat warnings. Not all on the island of 3.2 million people with a poverty rate of more than 40% can afford generators or solar panels.

RELATED: Private Companies Sue Luma Energy for $310M 

The collective Jornada se acabaron las promesas held a protest on Fortaleza Street, popularly called Resistencia Street, after the multiple protests against former governor Ricardo Roselló, to demand action from the government.

The Socialist Movement of Workers (MST) called a protest to demand the cancellation of LUMA’s contract, for this Friday, at 4:30 p.m., in front of the company’s offices, which several unions and organizations have joined.

 

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CATEGORIES: LOCAL NEWS
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