Quantcast
Popular
The aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Department of Defense

Puerto Rico's Massive Blackout Underscores Island's Fragile Electrical System

More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico was once again left without power after a main north-south transmission line failed.

According to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island was left with only 18 percent power generation on Thursday. The capital San Juan and other major cities were plunged back into darkness.


As Vox noted, the blackout was another reminder of the island's painstaking recovery fifty days after Hurricane Maria struck. One resident said it was "hard not to feel discouraged" and called the massive power failure "one step forward and three steps back."

Incidentally, the 230-kilovolt transmission line was previously repaired by the controversial Montana energy firm Whitefish Energy, whose no-bid $300 million contract to fix the U.S. territory's power grid is under FBI investigation.

But in a statement to BuzzFeed News, the company denied culpability.

"None of the issues reported today with the outage have anything to do with the repairs Whitefish Energy performed," spokesperson Brandon Smulyan said.

The power went out about 11:30 a.m. local time and was repaired Thursday night, Ricardo Ramos Rodriguez, executive director of PREPA, told CNN.

Indeed, as of Friday Morning, about 43 percent of capacity has returned.

"It was a mechanical issue on the line, could have happened at any line," PREPA official Fernando Padilla explained. "It's being patrolled and repaired by PREPA."

The Sept. 20 Category 4 hurricane knocked out power throughout Puerto Rico leaving much of its 3.4 million residents without electricity.

The latest outage has extended the largest and longest blackout in American history and a reminder of Puerto Rico's continued power woes.

As Peter Fox-Penne wrote for the Conversation, "Almost half its generation was from old, very expensive oil-fired plants, resulting in prices about 22 cents per kilowatt hour, among the highest in the U.S. The island has several solar photovoltaic farms but gets about 46 percent of its power from oil and only about 3 percent from solar."

Resident Marianne Sanchez wrote on Instagram: "Sad to report that today, the little power that was already restored … collapsed. Once again the whole island is without power. Although it is expected to be restored late in the evening or tomorrow, this is a not too friendly reminder of how fragile our power system is."

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo

One Year Into the Trump Administration, Where Do We Stand?

By John R. Platt

What a long, strange year it's been.

Saturday, Jan. 20 marks the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration officially taking office after a long and arduous election. It's a year that has seen seemingly unending attacks on science and the environment, along with a rise in hateful rhetoric and racially motivated policies. But it's almost been met by the continuing growth of the efforts to resist what the Trump administration has to offer.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Chris J. Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Slams Coca-Cola Plastic Announcement as ‘Dodging the Main Issue’

By Louise Edge

Friday Greenpeace criticized Coca-Cola's new global plastics plan for failing to address the urgency of ocean plastic pollution.

The long awaited policy from the world's largest soft drink company featured a series of measures weaker than those previously announced for Europe and the UK.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
The two young Iowa vandals knocked over 50 hives and exposed the bees to deadly winter temperatures. Colby Stopa / Flickr

Two Boys Charged With Killing Half a Million Honeybees in Iowa

Two boys were charged with killing more than a half million bees at a honey business in Iowa last month.

"All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures," Sioux City police said in a release.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy

Are Microwaves Really as Bad for the Environment as Cars?

According to many headlines blared around the Internet this week, "microwaves are as damaging to the environment as cars." But this misleading information, based on a new study from the University of Manchester, hopefully doesn't make you feel guilty about zapping your next Hot Pocket.

The research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that microwave ovens across the European Union generate as much carbon dioxide as nearly 7 million cars and consume an estimated 9.4 terawatts per hour of electricity per year. Okay, that sounds like a lot. But also consider that there are about 130 million microwaves in Europe and some 291 million vehicles on its roads.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO

Monsanto's Roundup Destroys Healthy Microbes in Humans and in Soils

By Julie Wilson

We're only beginning to learn the importance of healthy gut bacteria to our overall health—and the relationship between healthy soil and the human microbiome.

We know that the human microbiome, often referred to as our "second brain," plays a key role in our health, from helping us digest the food we eat, to boosting our brain function and regulating our immune systems.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump Watch
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke refused to meet with National Park System Advisory Board members last year, prompting most of them to quit. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

From National Parks to the EPA, Trump Administration Stiff-Arms Science Advisers

By Elliott Negin

The Trump administration's testy relationship with science reminds me of that old saying: Advice is least heeded when most needed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Shutterstock

8 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

By Caroline Cox

What keeps you up at night? Sick kids, restless pets, the latest tragedy on the evening news, politics, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, money troubles, job stress, and family health and wellbeing? There is no shortage of concerns that make us all toss and turn.

But what keeps the chemical industry up at night? A couple of decades ago a senior Shell executive was asked this very question. The answer? Endocrine disruption.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Dave Atkinson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Why We'll March Again

This Sunday marks the first anniversary of the Women's March that happened on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration—the largest protest march in our nation's history. The Sierra Club was there that day, and we'll be there this year, too—at a significant moment for women's rights and justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!