Electricity service should be restored across Puerto Rico by Thursday evening, a utility official said, a day after an island-wide riot began that left many people in the dark overnight and caused school cancellations and other disruptions across the U.S. territory.
Most of the island’s customers, about 3.2 million inhabitants, were still without power on Thursday morning, and workers were scrambling to restore power to at least one hospital where backup generator problems left an intensive care unit without power, officials said.
A fire broke out at the Costa Sur power plant outside the city of Guanila due to an unspecified failure. Kevin Acevedo, vice president of Puerto Rican utility company Luma Energy, told a news conference that power was cut across the island off the southwest coast around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. Since then, firefighters have put out the blaze.
All of the island’s customers initially lost power services, Puerto Rico’s chief telecommunications and infrastructure engineer Jose Colon told reporters, “because all the manufacturing units went offline.”
The exact cause was not immediately known, there are utilities Says.
Luma Energy expects power to be restored within 24 hours of the incident, Acevedo told a news conference.
The power outage disrupted water services in some 100,000 homes and businesses, Governor Pedro Pierre Luisi said. SaysQuotes from the island’s aquatic and sewerage authorities.
Pierre Luisi suspended school classes across the island on Thursday and told unnecessary government workers to stay home. Only government employees “must report to work with necessary and urgent work,” Pierre Luisi said Says In a press release
LUMA was working to restore power to Mayaguez Medical Center on the west coast of the island on Thursday morning after receiving reports of problems with a backup generator, officials said.
Due to generator problems, there was no electricity on an intensive maintenance floor. Four patients were intubated to that floor, and will be transferred to a floor with electricity if service is not restored soon, officials said.
Puerto Rico airports were open and no flights were canceled due to the outage, officials said.
Police have a plan to help turn off the lights and help drive traffic, but “we want help from drivers on the road,” Pierre Luisi said.
Early Thursday, Utility Says The “huge island-wide blackout” could be “due to the failure of a circuit breaker” at the Costa Sur plant.
The Puerto Rico Fire Department bureau said on Facebook Wednesday that firefighters had put out the blaze, which affected two substations at the plant.
Searching for the cause of the fire, Acevedo said Thursday morning the equipment was up to date for a maintenance inspection.
Cleaning work is underway at the plant, and replacement parts have been identified and ordered, Acevedo said.
LUMA is a joint venture between Quanta Services and the Canadian energy company ATCO, chosen by the Puerto Rican government to take over the management of the power grid from its previous public electric utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. LUMA has been in charge of the power grid since June 1.