Energy remains out of nearly half a million customers in Puerto Rico

A day after an island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico, in the latest breakdown in a permanently troubled electrical grid, nearly half a million customers were kept in the dark Thursday night.

Power has been slowly restored, but more than 470,000 consumers remain without electricity, out of more than 1.4 million, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks blackouts.

For Puerto Rico’s 3.2 million residents, the island-wide loss of power was a frustrating continuation of the difficulties brought on by an unreliable electric grid. The problems persisted even after a Canadian-American private consortium, Loma, took over the transmission and distribution of electricity from public utilities in Puerto Rico last June with a pledge to reduce the frequency of outages.

“The power grid has suffered a massive island-wide outage, possibly due to a circuit breaker failure at the Costa Sur power plant,” Loma said in an announcement Thursday. The facility produces the most electricity on the island.

Video shot And its circulation on social media showed a fire burning in one of the electricity substations in Costa Sur, on the southeast coast of the island. Loma said in a statement on Thursday that the exact cause of the power outage, which occurred just after 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, is still under investigation. The company said there was “serious damage” to the facility.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, chirp A photo of the charred plant on Thursday shows some of its components completely black.

The company said in a statement Thursday afternoon that Loma “is not in a position to provide an estimate for a full restoration at this time.” It added that efforts to restore electricity will continue until Friday.

It was public school canceled On Thursday, some government agencies suspended their usual operations. It is estimated that 182,000 water and sanitation customers – about 10 percent – were without water on Thursday as a result of the power outage.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi has issued a series of updates on social media, urge people “Keep calm” and wait for official updates from government agencies.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, knocking out power across the island and further exposing the vulnerability of an already fragile power grid. Some residents were left without electricity for more than a year.

Officials have attributed past power outages to animals — in one case a cat and in another, according to the Associated Press.

Last year, Puerto Rico privatized its electric grid and awarded Luma a 15-year contract with an annual fee of $115 million to take over transmission and distribution operations from embattled and bankrupt PREPA. Public utilities are still involved in generating electricity.

When Luma took over, company officials said they were prepared to deal with emergencies and hurricanes. However, blackouts were widespread and lasted longer than under PREPA.

Rafael Hernandez, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico in a tweet That a public company operated by Puerto Rican service providers, such as PREPA, could “operate more effectively than the current energy system.” he is called for He fired Loma, saying there were “thousands of families suffering” from the interruption.

Patricia Mazzi Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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