Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Puerto Ricans struggle to grasp economic impact of recurrent power outages

By 37ci3 Jun15,2024



Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., is asking the U.S. Department of Energy to help Puerto Rico monitor economic losses from repeated power outages in the U.S. territory since the beginning of the month. hundreds of thousands of customers were left without electricity whom the island is battling a heat warning.

Small business owners worried about staying open because they incur additional costs to run generators on the island or repair damaged electronics needed to run their businesses.

In the capital, San Juan, they said they were business owners there was no electricity for nine days in a row in early June. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans on the island endured prolonged power outages and voltage fluctuations – damaging household appliances and forcing residents to throw out spoiled food and medicine.

Economic losses suffered by businesses and consumers during these outages have been difficult to quantify.

In response, Velasquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Friday asking for Puerto Rico to be included in the department. Break Cost Estimating Calculator system.

In a letter first obtained by NBC News, Velázquez said the move would help Puerto Rican authorities measure the duration and frequency of outages and their economic impact, and help them assess compensation issues for loss of life.

“There needs to be more transparency about the extent of the damage caused by the outage,” Velázquez said.

The outages have reignited calls from frustrated Puerto Ricans to oust the private American companies that recently took over power generation and distribution after Hurricane Maria devastated the island’s already fragile and depleted power grid in 2017.

Luma Energy, which is responsible for Puerto Rico’s power transmission and distribution system, said at a news conference Thursday. Overgrown vegetation caused two power transmission lines to fail left more than 340,000 customers without power Wednesday night.

Luma officials also warned of future power outages, citing delays in a federally funded project to clear vegetation around power lines that was supposed to begin in late 2023.

In 2022, after Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rican lawmakers determined in a legislative hearing Deficiencies in how Luma Energy clears power lines of overgrown vegetation and has the ability to quickly restore power lines.

Puerto Rico government officials have promised for years privatization of the electricity grid Under Luma Energy, and more recently Genera PR, will improve electricity services. However, since 2017, there have been interruptions due to the permanent reconstruction of the destroyed electricity grid in recent years it has been more frequent and longer lasting.

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, the independent state agency responsible for regulating energy utilities, told Luma Energy and Genera PR that “a priority plan for stabilizing the power grid.“Companies have 20 days to submit a preliminary plan to the bureau resolution.

The resolution also calls for an investigation into the June 2 power transformer failure that left tens of thousands of other Puerto Ricans without power.

The power outage lasted so long that towns in central and southern Puerto Rico were forced to launch emergency response teams and request food distribution to those in need.

A faulty power transformer can take more than a month to repair because replacement parts are so heavy that they cannot be transported by road.

“While private operators are unable to deliver, the physical, emotional and economic harm to consumers is increasing,” Velázquez said in a statement to NBC News about the letter. “Immediate compensation for these losses is essential and private operators must be held accountable for their failure.”

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By 37ci3

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