Over the next several months, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Department of Energy, and private industry will unite to restore emergency power to Puerto Rico’s electric grid, which was heavily damaged by hurricanes Irma and María, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
Currently, only 14 percent of Puerto Rico has electricity, the agency noted.
PREPA and federal partners have four primary goals: to provide temporary emergency power and spot generation for critical facilities like hospitals, shelters, and schools; ensuring the adequate generation of power to the power plants and water pumping stations; and to ultimately rebuild permanent transmission lines across Puerto Rico and distribution lines to businesses and residential areas.
USACE recently awarded a $35.1 million contract to Weston Solutions for two generators that will provide a combined 50 MW of temporary power stability to the San Juan metropolitan area.
The generators arrived on Oct. 13 and are being installed at the Palo Seco power plant in San Juan, with a projected operation date of Oct. 25. USACE also awarded a $240 million contract to Fluor Corporation for personnel and equipment needed to augment current restoration activities.
FEMA awarded Puerto Rico $336.2 million in public assistance funding to assist in the emergency work and debris removal to aid the power restoration effort.
Federal partners are actively assessing critical facilities such as hospitals, shelters, and schools. To date, USACE has completed more than 460 generator assessments, 359 generator inspections, 106 temporary generator installations, and are in the process of installing an additional 36 temporary generators.
In addition, USACE placed an initial $115 million order for supplies and materials that includes more than 50 thousand poles, which are a mixture of concrete, galvanized steel and wood, and 6,500 miles of cable that will be used for power transmission and distribution.
Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of transmission lines and 30,000 miles of distribution lines with 300 sub-stations across the island. An estimated 80 percent of the power grid was damaged during hurricanes Irma and María.
Many challenges arise in the reinstallation and repair of transmission lines, including inclimate weather, mountainous terrain, unstable ground, and road closures.