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 ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Tjeerd Wiersma from Amsterdam, The Netherlands / CC BY 2.0

How Coca-Cola and Climate Change Created a Public Health Crisis in a Mexican Town

A lack of drinking water and a surplus of Coca-Cola are causing a public health crisis in the Mexican town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Some neighborhoods in the town only get running water a few times a week, so residents turn to soda, drinking more than half a gallon a day on average.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Plastic trash isn't safe for kids, whether human or bear. Kevin Morgans Wildlife Photography

Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution

By Allison Guy

Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We Can’t Hide From Global Warming’s Consequences

Over the past few months, heat records have broken worldwide.

In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3°C (124.34°F), the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern U.S. and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6°C (97.88°F), the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Stacey_newman / Getty Images

More Than a Third of Schools Tested Have ‘Elevated Levels’ of Lead in Drinking Water

A troubling new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more than a third of the nation's schools that tested their water for lead found "elevated levels" of the neurotoxin. But despite heightened concern in recent years about lead in drinking water, more than 40 percent of schools surveyed conducted no lead testing in 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Bill Pugliano / Stringer / Getty Images

Can Elon Musk Fix Flint’s Water?

By Fiona E. McNeill

The Michigan community of Flint has become a byword for lead poisoning. Elon Musk recently entered the fray. He tweeted a promise to pay to fix the water in any house in Flint that had water contamination above acceptable levels set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
A researcher at Oregon State University examines creeping bentgrass. Oregon State University / Flickr / Tiffany Woods

You Need to Be Paying Attention to GMO Grass

By Dan Nosowitz

Creeping bentgrass doesn't get as much attention as other genetically modified plants. But this plant tells us an awful lot—emphasis on the "awful"—about how GMO plants are regulated and monitored.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Alaska Wilderness League

Grassroots Fighters for the Arctic Refuge Take the Case to DC

By Rebekah Ashley

Even though our day-to-day existence may be far removed from Arctic Alaska, we must stand for the protection of the Arctic Refuge and ask our representatives to do the same.

Most Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In fact, a majority of us "strongly oppose it." This broad public concern echoed through the halls of Congress during Alaska Wilderness League's Wilderness Week, when more than 25 people from around the country (as far as Alaska and as young as six months) convened in Washington, DC, in late May to advocate for the protection of the Arctic Refuge. Collectively, our group met with more than 60 offices in just three days.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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