Sunday, December 17, 2017

USACE’s Puerto Rico grid restoration chief to be reassigned to another post

By on December 1, 2017

SAN JUAN –José Sánchez, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) director of contingency operations, who heads the efforts to restore Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, said his role on the island ends in late December.

USACE’s José Sánchez (Jaime Rivera/CB)

“I think on December 28 is when they plan to rotate me. It’s a normal rotation. It makes me a little sad because if it were up to me, I’d stay until it’s over, but I understand it’s part of the process,” Sánchez told the press.

When asked about the reconstruction work and the Dec. 15 deadline established by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the engineer did not give a final date but assured that the USACE’s timetable was now shorter.

“We are getting closer [to meeting the Dec. 15 deadline]. I feel that if we are at 62 percent generation, it will continue to increase. The stability created by closing the loop [which connects the power generation of the south with the consumption in the north] was key, but still, at this moment, I dare not give a number [of customers with service],” he said.

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He explained that as the percentage of generation reaches 80%, the number of customers and percentage of generation align. This is because, at the moment, with generation at 62%, there are large consumers such as hospitals and shopping centers, which the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) counts as one customer.

“We are working so most customers have service before February 2018, which was the date we established with the Department of Defense. The date continues to be rolled back and we continue trying to shorten it. The problem is it depends on the weather, distribution problems and manufacturing problems, of which I have already suffered a few,” he added when asked if the Dec. 15 deadline proposed by the governor would be met.

Sánchez also mentioned that USACE has taken over the purchase of materials, which include new tools provided to Prepa employees.

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