Puerto rico government

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Puerto Rico still without power 2 days after outage

By Melissa Alonso and Jason Hanna, CNN

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Puerto Rico were still without power Friday, two days after the start of a island-wide blackout which started with a fire in a power station.

About 600,000 to 650,000 of the island’s 1.5 million utility customers have been restored, the territory’s power grid operator said Friday morning.

That leaves an estimated 800,000 to 850,000 homes and businesses without power following an outage that closed schools across the island for two days and caused further disruptions for Puerto Rico’s 3.2 million people.

“We hope that at some point tonight we can bring 1 million customers back online. This is subject to security – for the system, for the employees and for the community,” Kevin told reporters in San Juan. Acevedo, Vice President of LUMA Energy, Puerto Rico‘s electricity grid operator.

An unspecified outage caused a fire at the Costa Sur power plant outside the town of Guayanilla on the southwest coast around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, knocking out power across the island, Acevedo said. Firefighters have since extinguished the flames.

All customers on the island lost power first, Josue Colon, Puerto Rico’s chief telecommunications and infrastructure engineer, told reporters Thursday, “because all the generating units went offline.”

The exact cause was not immediately known, the the utility said.

“Every (piece of) equipment (at the factory gate) must be inspected and tested to ensure that when it is returned to service, we can reliably and safely restore power to customers” , Shay Bahramirad, senior vice president of LUMA Energy. engineering and asset management, told reporters in San Juan on Friday.

The power outage also interrupted water service to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, Governor Pedro Pierluisi said. mentionedciting the island’s water and sewer authority.

Puerto Rico canceled Friday classes for students for a second straight day. But principals, custodians and school cafeteria workers were still asked to report for work on Friday, the island’s education department mentioned.

Courts on the island were also closed Friday due to the outage, although some court services are available online for urgent matters such as mental health and restraining orders, the territory’s court system mentioned.

All hospitals were operational Thursday afternoon, whether their electricity was restored or they were running via a generator, according to Interior Secretary Noelia García Bardales.

Ordering spare parts for power plant, official says

Early Thursday, the utility said the “massive island-wide outage” may have been “caused by a circuit breaker failure” at the Costa Sur plant.

Firefighters extinguished the flames that hit two substations at the plant, the Puerto Rico Fire Services Bureau said Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Acevedo said Thursday morning, adding that the equipment was up to date during maintenance inspections.

Factory cleanup is underway and spare parts have been identified and ordered, Acevedo said.

LUMA is a joint venture of Quanta Services and Canadian energy company ATCO, which the Puerto Rican government has chosen to take over the operation of the electricity grid from its former electric utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. LUMA was in charge of the electrical network since June 1.

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CNN’s Rafy Rivera, Stefano Pozzebon and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.