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Several Puerto Rico towns lose power over transmission-line failures

By on March 1, 2018

SAN JUAN — A failure in transmission line 50900, which runs between Aguirre Central in Salinas and Aguas Buenas, caused the Centrals San Juan and Palo Seco to lose service around midday on Thursday, which affected around 800,000 clients.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) informed via Twitter that because of this failure, its consumers from the San Juan metropolitan area, Caguas, Bayamón, Carolina and other towns in the central region lost energy service. Subsequently, the interim Executive Director of the utility, Justo González, explained at about 1:00 p.m. today that the corporation’s inspectors were flying over the area of Central Aguirre, in Salinas, to identify what cause the failure.

Prepa has denied that the blackout was related to possible austerity measures due to the economic situation of the public corporation.

According to the assistant operator at Central San Juan, Jorge Bracero—who has been reporting Prepa incidents via Facebook shortly after the onslaught of Hurricane Maria—the failure of line 50900 caused transmission line 50200 between Manatí and Bayamón to shut down as well.

Lines 50900 and 50200 connect Puerto Rico’s southern region with the north. Both lines were repaired by Montana-based company Whitefish Energy.

“The San Juan Central and the Palo Seco Central [powerplants] had a blackout. This represents the metro and central areas. The interconnections with the south are inactive. The 50909 and 40200, both lines that connect us to the south, are out. […] The north is fully in the dark. Now, [the task] is to again power up [for 5-16 hours] the Centrals to begin to re-energize the north,” Bracero explained in his official Facebook account.

“Turning on a unit and the Centrals in ‘hit-and-run’ mode may take one to 16 hours, depending on the unit and the Central,” he added. “This doesn’t mean you will be in the dark for days or weeks.”

Up until Wednesday, the government website stated that 87.4 percent of Prepa clients had electricity service.

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