Was the power grid in Puerto Rico built to fail?


The residents of Puerto Rico have found themselves engulfed in darkness after power supply systems were destroyed by Hurricane Fiona. The Category 4 hurricane has caused 3.1 million residents left in darkness. By Wednesday, some of the power had been restored but at least 1.1 million people were still in darkness.

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The devastating damage to Puerto Rico’s power supply goes beyond the expected threshold for various reasons. Experts warn that most American states should prepare or could find themselves in a similar situation. Underneath the damages are the scars left by Hurricane Maria in 2017. While the island has tried to rebuild, most of the efforts have only been temporary in nature. 

Related: Brutalist home in Puerto Rico is resistant to weather

The blackouts happened on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, serving as a reminder of the devastating aftermath of the event. More than 3000 homes currently have tarps for roofs resulting from Maria’s effects. Thanks to the hurricane, the island experienced a blackout that lasted over 11 months. As a result, the residents had to live in misery due to a lack of basic commodities such as tap water and nearly 3000 people died. 

With Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rico’s power supply systems were in dire shape before Maria and continued to before Fiona. Outages have been ongoing on the island, and this isn’t the first blackout they’ve had this year.

“It’s a tragedy that most Puerto Ricans saw coming,” said Luis Martinez, southeast director for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program, reported by Vox. “Not enough has been done to stabilize the system since Maria.”

The sluggish pace of getting the energy system fixed is due in part to poor management, underinvestment and difficulty of delivering power on an island. Since fuel is shipped into Puerto Rico, their power plants are near the coast, which is fatal during hurricanes.

Reconstruction after this current storm will be just as slow. It will also require the U.S. to share the burden, although the U.S. power grid is also on its last legs.

Via Vox

Lead image via Pexels



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