Puerto Rico’s power company, Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA), affirmed on Thursday that it has restored electricity to a majority of its customers after Wednesday morning’s power outage that was inadvertently triggered by a faulty transmission line.
According to USA Today, the island-wide blackout was caused by workers who were in the process of removing a fallen tower which drew too close to a major transmission line.
USA Today reports that Justo Gonzalez, the deputy director of PREPA, verified that the PREPA subcontractor overseeing the operations was allegedly responsible for also causing a similar power outage last week which affected 870,000 citizens.
Power restoration priorities were given to hospitals, banks, and the San Juan airport ahead of homes and businesses. Wednesday’s island-wide blackout has not only forced schools and businesses to close but has also stalled traffic, with long lines formed at gas stations.
Although the Associated Press reports that PREPA authorities stated that approximately 1.1 million of its clients have had their power restored and expects to service its remaining 326,000 customers by Thursday, the homes of thousands of Puerto Rican families still remain without electrical power months after hurricanes Maria and Irma.
In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Jonathan Rodriguez, a 22-year-old university student, revealed that his family has been without electricity since September 7th when Hurricane Irma struck the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, stating that “I knew we’d be without power for some time, but not this long.” Rodrigeuz, who lives in the central mountain town of Corozal with his aunt and grandmother, takes a daily 20-minute drive after work to the nearest gas station to purchase fuel for the donated generator that powers his relatives’ medical machinery throughout the day and night.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which is currently supervising federal power restoration efforts, announced that it anticipates that the entire island will be fully powered by the end of May.
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