Despite significant restoration progress, more than 100,000 customers in Puerto Rico were still without power Tuesday, two weeks after Hurricane Fiona slammed the island with 80-mile-per-hour winds.
LUMA Energy on Monday provided an update on its recovery work, noting it has returned service to more than 1.36 million customers, or about 93% of the total it serves. The utility also said on Saturday that all of its 230-kV power lines have been energized, along with 89% of 115-kV lines and 72% of 38-kV lines.
The utility said it has “fully restored service to the transmission system including all substations across Puerto Rico.” All hospitals have power, and 95% of water facilities have been restored, the utility said.
LUMA Energy began operating Puerto Rico’s electric grid last year, managing the system through a public-private partnership while the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority continues to own the island’s grid assets.
“LUMA has deployed an increased number of crews in the western and southern regions that were hit hardest by Hurricane Fiona,” the utility said in its update. “Operational focus is on 38 kV transmission lines, distribution feeders and substations in the west and south of the island.”
Puerto Rico’s electric grid has been knocked offline multiple times in recent years. In 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s electric system, and efforts to rebuild and modernize the grid are ongoing. President Joe Biden visited the island Sunday to survey restoration efforts and announce additional support from the federal government.
“Today, I’m announcing more than $60 million in funding to help coastal areas in Puerto Rico become better prepared,” Biden said. “In addition, there’s nearly $700 million in infrastructure investments in Puerto Rico that have already been announced since I signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law last November.”
“We’re particularly focused on the power grid,” Biden added. So far this year, Puerto Rico has received $4 million in federal funding to help make the power grid more resilient, he said. “That number is going to go up. ... I’m ready to deploy and expedite more resources from the Department of Energy and other federal agencies ... to help transform the entire system.”