When Will Puerto Rico Catch a Break? Electricity Problems Flare up Again

Puerto Rico is once again, finding itself in the dark. The country has been going through major electricity failures since Wednesday, and seven months after Hurricane Maria, the island is still undergoing repercussions of the damage on its electrical grid.

According to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, in order to restore electricity to the 1.5 million residents on the island, the process could take up to three days. This incident followed another widespread electricity failure just one week ago. Since Hurricane Maria, the island’s electricity grid never fully recovered to its full functioning capacity. The last failure occurred on Thursday and hit almost 90,000 customers on the island because a tree fell on a main electrical line near San Juan.

Most organizations and businesses have been running on generators and local residents have already accepted this flickering of electricity as a part of their norms. Eduardo Perez, who is now an ESPN commentator, was hosting the news conference commemorating Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico, and he said: “Welcome to Puerto Rico, this what we know as life.”

The local power authority had hoped to help restore the electricity by the end of the day; this promise, however, fell short as 100 percent of those who were hit by the failure still did not have power three hours later.

The process of power restoration requires thousands of electrical workers from the United States to install poles, transformers and electrical wires. On this project, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has already poured over $2 billion to the relief efforts. Currently, though the Corps have already started to wrap up their project, local authority claimed that there were still over 2,000 workers fixing the electrical lines.

While the company has set their priority to restoring electricity in infrastructures and places that most needed it, including the hospitals, the airport, water pumping stations and banks. The electoral worker union, however, are voicing discontent and suspicion towards the company’s motives as they suspect that the company is attempting to privatize itself and had purposefully delayed the progress of recovery and restoration.

The head of the union, Angel Figueroa Jaramillo, openly stated his suspicion: “People who came here with business in mind did what they could, quote unquote ‘finished’, and then left. This is all a process on how to dismantle the electric authority to justify the privatization of the most important service in our country.”

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