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Why Does Restoring Full Power In Puerto Rico Seem Like A Never-ending Job?

las piedras destrtuction

Las Piedras, Puerto Rico days after Hurricane Maria barreled through the island. Photo credit: Alliete Matos

About a third of Puerto Rico’s residents – over 900,000 – are still living without electricity five months after Hurricane Maria battered the island on Sept. 20th of last year.

As power restoration efforts continue against all odds, it’s still hard for officials to say when the power will be fully restored — the question on everyone’s mind.

“I would hesitate to give you a date,” said Lt. Col. John Cunningham of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the deputy commander for the Task Force Power Restoration on the island. “We would like to go faster, but right now we are going as fast as we can.”

“The largest challenge has been logistics: getting the materials we need,” Cunningham told NBC News. “Because it is a tropical island, they need specific conductors and materials that can resist the tropical weather and there’s a limited number of suppliers available to purchase specific materials for the island.”

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, getting access to those materials is even harder.

About 1,200 temporary generators and seven microgrids are powering key areas near important buildings such as schools and hospitals. In addition, teams from utility companies from the mainland U.S. have made their way to Puerto Rico to support personnel sent to the island to help restore power.

After Hurricane Maria left the entire island without power, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, needed at least about 53,000 poles, a little over  17 million conductors and……


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