World

Puerto Rico's worst blackout since Maria leaves island residents 'frustrated'

Puerto Rico's worst blackout since Maria leaves island residents 'frustrated'

The mishap caused a domino effect that shut down multiple power plants in succession, Justo Gonzales of the Electric Power Authority said. Puerto Rico's financial debt coupled with the pension liabilities are almost twice the size of its economy.

More than a third of the island of Puerto Rico has power again after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line on Wednesday, officials said. Coto noted that around 40,000 power customers on the island still remain without normal electrical service due to the hurricane. The outage last Thursday was set off when a tree limb fell on a power line as the contractor cleared land in central Puerto Rico and a backup line failed. The equipment was being operated by a subcontractor for Cobra Acquisitions. The last outage, that occurred a week ago, affected 870,000 residents.

The board is scheduled to approve all seven fiscal plans by Friday, including those for Puerto Rico's power and water and sewer companies.

In March, six months since Hurricane Maria walloped the island, Gov. Rossello said that the electrical grid being put up now will be weaker than the grid that existed before the storm, adding that it could take almost five years for a stronger grid to be built.

The latest blackout prompted Gov. Ricardo Rossello to call on PREPA to cancel its contract with the subcontractor.

"Everybody is pissed off", said Dr. Jorge Gabriel Rosado, 30, a pediatrician on the island. "I have seen a lack of urgency on that, whether it is on the contracting side or the bringing materials side which is a current problem".

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has spent $2.1 billion on restoring power on the island, where 80 percent of the distribution lines were damaged during the hurricane. "If there's a slight storm, we're going to be worse off than we are right now", he said.

The outage did not stop the last of a two-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins being played on the island. "That actually has been going better than the government effort to tell you the truth", she said. "We are prepared. Every area of Hiram Bithorn Stadium can run on generators that have a capacity to run for 48 hours", Blakeman said.

Right now, all of the focus is on bringing the main generators back online. but this is a frustrating time not only for the relief workers but for the citizens themselves, since almost 40,000 are still without normal electricity as a result of Hurricane Maria.

On broader economic matters, the board wants Puerto Rico's government to make a Christmas bonus voluntary for private employers and allow businesses to dismiss workers without first having to prove just cause.


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