Chorus for Use of Puerto Rico’s Palo Seco Power Station Grows
SAN JUAN – A fourth power outage at the Central San Juan station registered only three hours after nearly 9 percent of consumers being served by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) along the island’s North coast came back on line just before midnight is calling into question the utility executive director’s refusal to use the power station units that are available for generation.
“Units 1 and 3 at Palo Seco are available and would provide close to 400 megawatts of power if necessary,” said one member of Prepa’s power brigades, who confirmed what one engineer told Caribbean Business late Thursday after Central San Juan’s units went down for a third time. “All it would take is about eight hours of work to patch them in. You wouldn’t have blackouts because you wouldn’t run them at full capacity safeguarding for surges that have been knocking out Central San Juan.”
For Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the time frame that has been offered as to how long it will take to restore electric service is unacceptable.
“That’s why I’m going to propose to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Prepa that we move this faster. To take four or six months; these figures are not acceptable. We have to look for resources to rebuild Puerto Rico faster. I’m going to be putting out a series of expectations that I will be communicating to the people of Puerto Rico as to when you are going to have electric power so the people know what the expectations are,” the governor said Friday.
During a press conference this week, Prepa’s Ramos was unequivocal in his assertion that the Palo Seco plant would not be used under any circumstances. “We are very fortunate nothing happened [to Palo Seco] with María [but] the fact that nothing happened during María, as an engineer, I take as: If it was weak before, now it’s weaker. The Palo Seco plant won’t be operating under any circumstance,” he said during a press conference Thursday.
The devastated power authority decommissioned Palo Seco in August on grounds that it was obsolete and unsafe to operate. That the plant withstood the onslaught of the storm named María, which was packing sustained winds upward of 145 miles per hour has forced some people to question Ramos’s assertions.
“We believe they are trying to sell that asset, and if they use it their argument that that it doesn’t work will fall apart,” the Prepa employee said. “Remember, they said Palo Seco could not withstand 140 mile per hour winds. Well it did and they should use the units that are available to help balance the grid without it shutting down every other day.”
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