Was the power grid in Puerto Rico built to fail?

Residents of Puerto Rico have found themselves engulfed in darkness after power supply systems were destroyed by Hurricane Fiona. The Category 4 hurricane has left 3.1 million residents in the dark. By Wednesday, some power had been restored, but at least 1.1 million people were still in the dark.

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The devastating damage to Puerto Rico’s power supply exceeds the expected threshold for various reasons. Experts warn that most US states should prepare or may find themselves in a similar situation. Among the damage are the scars left by Hurricane Maria in 2017. While the island has tried to rebuild, most of the efforts have only been temporary.

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The power outages occurred on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, and served as a reminder of the devastating aftermath of the event. More than 3,000 homes currently have tarps on their roofs as a result of Maria’s effects. Thanks to the hurricane, the island experienced a blackout that lasted over 11 months. As a result, residents had to live in misery due to a lack of basic commodities such as running water, and nearly 3000 people died.

With Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rico’s power systems were in bad shape before Maria and continued until before Fiona. Outages have been ongoing on the island and this is not the first blackout they have had this year.

“It’s a tragedy that most Puerto Ricans saw coming,” said Luis Martinez, southeast director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program, reported by Vox. “Not enough has been done to stabilize the system since Maria.”

The slow pace of fixing the energy system is partly due to poor management, underinvestment and difficulties in supplying power to an island. Since fuel is shipped to Puerto Rico, their power plants are located near the coast, which is fatal during hurricanes.

Reconstruction after this current storm will be just as slow. It will also require the US to share the burden, even though the US power grid is also on its last legs.

Via Vox

Lead image via Pexels


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