Why Puerto Rico still has no electrical power and how to fix it

Posted by K R on

Puerto Rico is still literally powerless. Though Hurricane Maria made landfall as a category four hurricane over a week ago, the storm has left the island almost entirely without electrical power. The island’s electrical grid was unable to resist the one-two punch of Hurricane Irma followed by Maria. 250-kilometre-per-hour winds and 76 centimetres of rain have left nearly 100 per cent of the island without power. Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló calls the situation a “humanitarian emergency”. The lack of power makes it hard to refrigerate food and to run air conditioning – both essential in the hot Caribbean climate. What’s more, pumps that push water for drinking, bathing and flushing toilets aren’t working. On Wednesday, FEMA reported that 42 per cent of the population was without potable water and more than 10,000 people were occupying 161 shelters. Nobody knows how long it will take to get the grid back online. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) can’t restore power without assistance, because it filed for bankruptcy in July under a crippling $9 billion debt. The American Public Power Association (APPA), of which PREPA is a member, says the damage must first be assessed before it can determine how long repairs will take. “We don’t know if this is going to be a six-month situation, a five-month situation,” says Mike Hyland, APPA’s senior vice president of engineering. “We don’t know if it’s going to be rolling crews in. We don’t know how many linemen from the Army Corps of Engineers will be available.”

Read More: New Scientist

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