- The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Puerto Rico's embattled utility have signed an agreement for the mainland utility to continue assisting in the modernization, rebuilding and storm-hardening of the island's electric grid.
- New York and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) have been working closely since Hurricane Maria devastated the island and destroyed its electric grid one year ago. In the wake of the storm, a contingent of utility workers from New York participated in five missions on the island, according to an after action report on the coordination and response.
- While the utility has largely restored power to island residents, reconstruction will be a longer process and NYPA's assistance on Puerto Rico will continue with a focus on management and operations, storm preparedness and technical assistance.
It has been one year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and the island's recovery continues. While PREPA says all electric customers now have power again, that merely represents the end of electric power restoration — the island's grid is more fragile than ever and a complete rebuilding will take years.
To that end, New York last week expanded its commitment to the island to help rebuild homes and other infrastructure. NYPA has already done extensive recovery work on the island, and the new announcement represents a more forward-looking partnership.
PREPA CEO José Ortiz Vázquez called the state's response after Maria "a blessing," in a statement, adding “now they will be part of our reconstruction of a modern, quick responding and resilient grid."
Between November 2017 and April 2018, more than 450 utility workers from New York went to Puerto Rico to help restore power, according to NYPA. The authority says its continued assistance in Puerto Rico will focus on three primary areas.
- Technical Assistance and Advocacy: The power authority said it will help stabilize the island's power grid and assist in advocating for federal funds needed to improve the overall electric system.
- Reform Management and Operations: NYPA says it will take its lessons-learned from helping the Long Island Power Authority recover from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 to assist PREPA in rebuilding its electric grid and reforming how it is operated and managed.
- Strengthen Emergency Preparedness: New York intends to help PREPA strengthen its emergency preparedness and resiliency initiatives, and continue improving its energy operations.
Key recommendations from the after-action report include continuing to develop the partnership between the New York State utility contingent, PREPA and other island stakeholders, as well as preparing for future storms and other events.
PREPA has been in financial trouble for years, which hampered the utility's system upkeep and storm response. A federal oversight board now reviews Puerto Rico's finances, which has created additional tension related to its utility. In August the oversight board pushed PREPA and the island's water utility to rewrite their budgets, saying they are not compliant with the board's fiscal plans.