Just as hurricane season officially starts today, officials in Puerto Rico say the island’s electric grid – still not fully repaired from last year’s Hurricane Maria – is dangerously vulnerable to another collapse.
The federal government spent nearly $4 billion to repair the system and end a nearly nine-month blackout. But now, according to an Associated Press report, the territory’s 3.3 million people are being told they should brace for more discomfort in the dark and the heat should another storm hit this year.
“It’s a highly fragile and vulnerable system that really could suffer worse damage than it suffered with Maria in the face of another natural catastrophe,” Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the AP.
“The grid is there, but the grid isn’t there. It’s teetering,” Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s commissioner of public safety told the news agency. “Even if it’s a (Category) 1, it is in such a state that I think we’re going to lose power. I don’t know for how long.”
Members of Congress last month grilled federal agency officials on the island’s power situation. Even as recently as last month, more than 20,000 people on Puerto Rico remained without power.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is a public agency, but there have been talks about privatizing it.
Several officials and critics of the power agency have said the island’s grid is old and suffered from a lack of maintenance.