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Puerto Rico Continues to Suffer Worst Electricity Failure in U.S. History

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With the power still out on Oct. 20, surgeons in Puerto Rico used cell phones as flashlights. @agarciapadilla / Twitter

Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history, according to a new report. An analysis released this week from the Rhodium Group finds that the hurricane caused a net loss of 1.25 billion hours of electricity since hitting Puerto Rico on Sept. 20—the largest in recorded history.

Nine of the 10 most severe power outages in the U.S. were the result of hurricanes, according to the report. Weeks after Hurricanes Maria and Irma passed over the region, 75 percent of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million inhabitants remain without power.


The U.S. Virgin Islands were hit especially hard, as 98 percent of St. Croix and all of St. John remain powerless. Whitefish Energy, an obscure firm given the $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico's power grid, is now under several government reviews after lawmakers expressed concerns with the bidding process and the firm feuded publicly with San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Twitter this week.

"Nothing destroys electrical grids like hurricanes do," Trevor Houser, who leads Rhodium's energy and natural resources work, told BuzzFeed News.

For a deeper dive:

Rhodium group: The Hill, Buzzfeed, Vice, NPR. Whitefish: CNN Money, Bloomberg, The Hill. Twitter spat: BBC, NBC, The Hill. Commentary: New York Times editorial, The Hill, Ross Marchand op-ed, San Diego Union-Tribune editorial

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