Thursday, December 14, 2017

Prepa grid coming back online, slowly

By on September 22, 2016

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Melted steel can be seen following a fire that broke out at Prepa’s Aguirre powerplant complex

SAN JUAN – An island submerged in darkness Wednesday following a fire at the Central Aguirre thermoelectric powerplant that sparked a massive outage across the island’s decrepit electric transmission grid was slowly seeing power restored though the combined services of several smaller, remote plants.

Although declaring an island-wide emergency, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said 200,000 people have had their power service restored. The emergency declaration provides for a price freeze on products, as well as allocation of funds to address the outage.

The governor also urged people to use their landlines in order to reduce stress on the wireless service providers’ networks.

“The island can operate without Aguirre, but we have to bring the other units into the grid slowly,” said one source with knowledge of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s generation and transmission constraints. “Demand can’t be more than what’s produced. As they started to fire up the different plants to feed specific regions, the plants shut down. You will see more plants coming on line.”

At this writing, the Cambalache 245-megawatt (MW) plant and Mayagüez’s 225 MW plant were supplying the island’s western region and parts of northern Puerto Rico with power. The Palo Seco plant was brought back online early Thursday and Ecoeléctrica and Costa Sur in Southern Puerto Rico are expected to be brought back online later Thursday.

Javier Quintana, executive director of the public utility, said power was restored to more than 130,000 of the total of 1.5 million customers by early Thursday morning and that service may return to normal Friday.

The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is fully operational.

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