Disaster Zone

Puerto Rico Power Restoration Is 8 Months and Not Done

Mistakes were made!

by Eric Holdeman / May 9, 2018

The saga of power restoration in Puerto Rico will go down in disaster history as one of the most difficult and painful experiences we have watched unfold. See this detailed recounting of the missteps and challenges in the power restoration, How Storms, Missteps and an Ailing Grid Left Puerto Rico in the Dark.

Yesterday, a Senate Committee heard testimony on the issues surrounding the power snafu in Puerto Rico. The article calls out a number of them, but those that will strike you immediately are the failure to call for mutual aid and the issue with the Stafford Act.

As for mutual aid, I recall being in a meeting here in Seattle a week or so after Hurricane Maria hit the island, and power companies were saying that they were surprised that there had not been a call for mutual aid resources from Puerto Rico. As emergency managers, we all know that mutual aid is our first line of defense.

Then there is a brief reference to the Stafford Act and the fact that you cannot build back a more resilient system, so "we put them back the way they was." A reference to Li'l Abner, the musical. Wind and solar would be naturals for an island in the middle of an ocean. 

Since the restoration has been primarily a distribution system task, the power generation system is as ancient and rusted as it was before the storm. We have not heard the last about electrical power and Puerto Rico. 

Claire Rubin shared the link above.