More Delays to Restore Puerto Rico Power Grid
SAN JUAN – More faulty infrastructure continues to delay reconnection of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid through Cambalache in the San Juan metropolitan area to the grid’s southern region, the latter of which is home to the island’s largest energy generation stations.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) put Whitefish Energy in charge of fixing the problems related to Cambalache Central’s powerplant and transmission lines. Cambalache, in the northern municipality of Arecibo, connects Bayamón with the Costa Sur powerplant.
Another hurdle to restoring the power grid has been vandalism and theft of materials at substations, according to Ricardo Ramos, Prepa’s director.
The island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra are connected to the main grid through submarine lines. This week, the line connecting Vieques to the Punta Lima station in Naguabo was severed. Since the line was cleanly cut, the authorities are discarding the possibility of it being an accident.
Other events were reported at substations San Lorenzo 1 and 2. In these cases, Ramos explained, someone stole the copper bars, which the Prepa director believes was done by people who hoped to sell them. However, he pointed out that collection centers are not receiving this material.
The thefts add to other situations at various units, which are preventing Prepa from restoring its service.
Another factor is that along with new inspections, more damaged infrastructure is continually being discovered. Such is the case with three towers that were found damaged Monday during a ground inspection of the Cambalache transmission line’s Manatí portion of the route.
These towers are in addition to two others the government reported Monday, which have already been restored. While the administration originally hoped the damaged towers would not delay reconnection, Ramos ultimately decided to postpone the process.
“This situation was brought to my attention and I made the decision to repair [the towers] because this is going to be the only [transmission] line for the next week and half that we are going to have to interconnect the north and the south,” Ramos explained.
Under usual situations, three transmission lines from the south supply energy to the metropolitan area. The next line expected to be connected is through Aguas Buenas, with work tentatively scheduled to start next week.
The new timeline is for the Cambalache line to be restored by Thursday, with additional Whitefish units expected to arrive Wednesday.
One concern Ramos has about restarting energy transmission too soon through Cambalache is that it could create problems for areas that were already stabilized.