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Puerto Rico crews scramble to restore power after island-wide outage | CNN



CNN
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Electric service should be restored across Puerto Rico by Thursday evening, a utility official said, a day after the start of an island-wide outage that left many people in the dark overnight and prompted school cancellations and other interruptions across the US territory.

Most customers on the island of about 3.2 million residents still were without power Thursday morning, and workers were scrambling to restore power to at least one hospital where backup generator issues left an intensive care unit without electricity, officials said.

An unspecified failure led to a fire at the Costa Sur power plant outside the town of Guayanilla on the southwest coast around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, cutting power across the island, Kevin Acevedo, vice president of the Puerto Rican utility company LUMA Energy, said at a news conference. Firefighters have since extinguished the flames.

All customers on the island lost power service initially, Jose Colon, Puerto Rico’s lead telecommunications and infrastructure engineer, told reporters, “because all the generating units went offline.” 

The exact cause wasn’t immediately known, the utility has said.

LUMA Energy expects power to be restored within 24 hours of the incident, Acevedo said at the news conference.

The power outage also has interrupted water service to about 100,000 homes and businesses, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, citing the island’s aqueducts and sewers authority.

Pierluisi suspended school classes across the island Thursday and told nonessential government workers to stay home. Only government workers “with essential and emergency functions will have to report to work,” Pierluisi said in a news release.

LUMA was working to restore power to Mayagüez Medical Center on the island’s west coast Thursday morning after receiving reports of issues with a backup generator, officials said.

Because of the generator issues, an intensive care floor had no electricity. Four patients on that floor were intubated, and would be moved to a floor with electricity if service wasn’t restored soon, officials said.

Puerto Rico’s airports were operational, and no flight cancellations were reported due to the outage, according to officials.

Police have a plan to help circulate traffic with the lights out, but “we ask for cooperation from drivers on the roads,” Pierluisi said.

Early Thursday, the utility said the “massive island-wide blackout” might have been “caused by a circuit breaker failure” at the Costa Sur plant.

Firefighters extinguished flames that affected two substations at the plant, the Bureau of Puerto Rico Fire Departments said on Facebook on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, Acevedo said Thursday morning, adding that the equipment was up to date on maintenance inspections.

Cleanup at the plant is underway, and replacement parts have been identified and ordered, Acevedo said.

LUMA is a joint venture of Quanta Services and the Canadian energy company ATCO, which the Puerto Rican government chose to take over the operation of the power grid from its previous public electric utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. LUMA has been in charge of the power grid since June 1.


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