Puerto Rico power utility director: Restoring service may take 3 weeks
SAN JUAN – Two days after Hurricane Irma, some 970,000 Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) customers continue without service, Executive Director Ricardo Ramos said Friday.
Of that number, “the majority” should have their service restored within the next three weeks, he said, while the so-called “pockets”–remote or rural areas affected by fallen utility poles, for example–may have to wait up to three months.
“We are working to do it much sooner. What I don’t want is to put pressure on my employees. I [pressure] them, but what I don’t want is for people on the street, whenever a date an executive director has given expires, begin to yell profanities [to the employees]. You know, they begin to pressure them and that results in accidents and unsafe operations because they have the highest commitment to try to do the job as soon as possible,” the agency director said in a WKAQ 580 radio interview.
Ramos explained that currently the “main limitation” to expedite the restoration of the service is the transfer of energy from the south to the north of the island.
“Historically, as the people of Puerto Rico know, most of our generation, for historical reasons, is in the south; and most of the consumption is in the north. The fact is we lost many of our 230,000-volt lines, which are the main transmission arteries. ‘We lost’ means they are out of service for some reason,” he added.
Regarding Prepa’s infrastructure, Ramos said the towers are in good condition after the hurricane and that none “fell to the ground.”
“In other circumstances, we have had cases where the towers have fallen to the ground and have formed what we call metal spaghetti, with conductors, etcetera. That did not happen. The towers appear to be intact. What we did see was what we knew was going to happen first, which was the breakage of the isolators,” which he explained that along with “their fittings are highly corroded and that is what we are finding: broken isolators with conductors on the floor in many places. That is positive in the sense that fixing that takes much less time than if the entire tower had failed.”