Millions In Puerto Rico Without Power Amid Huge Blackout

Millions of citizens in Puerto Rico left without power amid huge blackout

A huge blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday, leaving millions of citizens without power, as investigators look into fixing of the outage.

The Electric Power Authority, which provides electricity for the entire island, say they expect power to be restored by Thursday. reports:

The blackout was caused by a fire started by energy switches at a major facility in Aguirre which damaged power lines. That facility serves a majority of island residents.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the fire began in a switch and destroyed a system that provides 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s overall power, according to the Sentinel.

The power company said two transmission lines of 230 thousand volts have been damaged. The blackout began at about 2:30 p.m., Univision reported.

The company said in a press release that no injuries had been reported and the fire was controlled.

The power company’s executive director said during a press conference that power lines are being inspected and they have activated a plan to restore service.

Each unit at the facility will be energized “sequentially” in order to jumpstart available electricity generation. Restoring service to hospitals, airports, police stations and Aqueducts and Sewers Authority plants will be the priority, according to a press release.

“We are working hard to achieve recovery [of the] system and restore service to our customers,” said Javier Quintana Mendez.  “We ask the public to remain calm in this situation and our colleagues remind you the most important thing is the safety of everyone.”

According to the AEMEAD, an emergency and disaster agency in Puerto Rico, the fire was brought under control around 5 p.m.

El Nuevo Dia newspaper first reported that a failure in transmission at the Aguirre site caused a “total collapse of the system” which led to loss of power.

An energy switch at the facility which distributes energy seemed to be the cause, according to El Nuevo Dia.

The power outage angered many Puerto Ricans who on average, pay power bills that are twice as costly as bills on the U.S. mainland, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Electric Power Authority has faced numerous allegations of corruption, according to the Sentinel. They are facing a $9 billion debt and officials say they are seeking more revenue to update what they say is old equipment.