Monday, September 24, 2018

Puerto Rico Gov’t Signs 3rd MultiMillion-Dollar Contract to Reestablish Electric Grid

By on October 20, 2017

A fleet of Jacksonville Electric Authority bucket trucks arrives in Puerto Rico. (Courtesy)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) Executive Director Ricardo Ramos officially signed a contract with Cobra Acquisitions on Thursday night to support the work already done on the island by Whitefish Energy to restore the main lines of transmission.

The contract with Cobra comes after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló ordered a more accelerated strategy to reestablish electric service to Puerto Rico, precisely one month after Hurricane Maria hit the island. To date, Prepa has barely managed to generate 20% of the normal energy demand of its customers.

Puerto Rico power utility signs $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy

The contract with Cobra, a subsidiary of Mammoth Energy Services, based in Oklahoma, will have a of $200 million. Another contract, capped at $300 million, was also signed with Montana-based Whitefish, which was selected by Prepa before Maria hit on Sept. 20 and its executives were mobilized to the island a week after the hurricane.

Since Prepa is going through a bankruptcy process in federal court, the utility’s costs to rebuild the electric grid are being paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Whitefish has said it has about 300 employees and subcontractors in Puerto Rico, reportedly including brigades from the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) and the Kissimmee Utility Authority.

Caribbean Business learned that Power Secure, whose preliminary agreement with Prepa was announced this week by Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario, ended up being contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an entity of the federal government in charge of managing the contracts to rebuild the electricity network after Maria.

Ramos said that to achieve the goal of increasing power generation to 30% by the end of this month and 50% by November, about 1,000 brigades will be needed working on the different phases of the process. It is estimated that at this moment that there are 231 Prepa brigades and 24 Whitefish brigades working to repair key 115- and 230-kilovolt transmission lines, along with 411 JAE and 275 Cobra brigades, as well as some 100 brigades from local power companies.

The Corps of Engineers also announced that in the coming weeks, 275 brigades from Fluor Corp. should arrive in Puerto Rico to join the effort.

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3 Comments

  1. Lissette Vazquez

    October 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Puerto Rico has the opportunity now to be smart and become solar power . But again policy and politics.

    • rborlick

      October 27, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Solar can be part of the solution but by itself cannot solve Puerto Rico’s electricity problem, any more than it has solved Hawaii’s.

      Obviously, the sun doesn’t shine at night; consequently, a power system needs additional resources to provide service on a 24/7 basis. Battery storage is currently too expensive to carry a power system through the day-night cycle.

      Puerto Rico could be an ideal test bed for a small, modular nuclear reactor.

  2. Angel Santiago Calderon Jr.

    October 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Solar is a political issue and a problem

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