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US ships mega mills to ease outages in Puerto Rico

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor introduced Friday that the U.S. authorities has shipped three mega mills to the island to assist stabilize the U.S. territory’s rickety electrical grid and decrease persevering with outages.

The mills will add 150 megawatts of energy, and extra mills that the U.S. is predicted to ship quickly will provide one other 250 megawatts, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi mentioned.

Officers mentioned crews will set up the mills earlier than the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1.

“It’s step one in a really, very advanced course of,” mentioned Nancy Casper, a coordinator with the U.S. Federal Emergency Administration Company.

FEMA is paying for 90% of the venture and Puerto Rico’s authorities the remaining 10% as a part of a deal reached final 12 months, however each Casper and Pierluisi mentioned the whole value was not but accessible as a result of it could rely partially on how lengthy the mills will function.

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Puerto Rico solely just lately began everlasting repairs on an getting older energy grid razed by Hurricane Maria, a Class 4 storm that struck the island in September 2017. Since then, energy outages have develop into a standard prevalence, disrupting day by day life on the island of three.2 million folks.

The federal authorities has allotted some $12 billion — most of it for the grid reconstruction — however solely 18 everlasting tasks totaling $88 million have been accomplished as of early March, based on the nonpartisan suppose tank Heart for a New Financial system.

“At this tempo, it could take over 100 years to finish the reconstruction of the Puerto Rico electrical grid,” the middle mentioned in an evaluation revealed Thursday.

The facility grid was additional weakened by Hurricane Fiona, a Class 1 storm that hit Puerto Rico’s southwest area in September 2022. It sparked an island-wide blackout and triggered greater than $3 billion in harm to the crumbling electrical system.

“The non permanent era is crucial,” Casper mentioned of the brand new mills.

The non permanent energy enhance will enable crews to take substations, transformers and breakers offline for repairs that would take wherever from 12 to 18 months.

Puerto Rico’s energy grid was already shaky earlier than Hurricane Maria struck, with officers blaming many years of mismanagement and neglect. Its era items are on common 45 years {old}, twice these of the U.S. mainland.

The grid’s ongoing issues come as Puerto Rico’s Electrical Energy Authority struggles to restructure greater than $9 billion in debt, the biggest of any authorities company. A majority of collectors have but to achieve a take care of a federal management board overseeing the island’s funds regardless of six years of acrimonious negotiations.

In June 2020, the island’s energy firm privatized transmission and distribution operations, and in January, it introduced that it had chosen a personal firm to function and preserve its era items.

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