Massive blackout hits Puerto Rico as schools are canceled

Schools have been closed in Puerto Rico as more than a million customers in the US island territory are left without power.

Late Thursday, the island’s largest utility, LUMA, said it was working to restore power to its customers on the island of 3.2 million after a power outage.

Although it wasn’t clear what caused the power outage, officials said work to restore power was expected to continue through Friday.

“No one can say exactly when,” said LUMA Vice President Kevin Acevedo. “We have to be realistic. The system is complex, delicate.”

The blackout prevented 170,000 Puerto Ricans from receiving water on Thursday, and officials announced road and school closures.

The Ministry of Education called in a tweet: “Due to the fault in the electrical system, tomorrow, Friday, 8 am will be held.”

Government workers were also urged to stay at home on Thursday, while those who are “non-essential” are to stay at home. It was unclear if similar action would be taken on Friday.

A power generator used during the power outage


A resident of the Rio Piedras neighborhood of San Juan told reporters she was shocked by recent energy price hikes and said the blackout was another blow to many.

“This is awful,” said Luisa Rosado, a mother of two.

Puerto Ricans pay some of the highest tariffs for electricity in the United States, and the island’s utility company, LUMA, was formed just last year and took over control from the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in June 2021.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island, causing widespread power outages. Infrastructure improvements were yet to come, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had committed around $9bn (£6.9bn) as of September 2020.

A cafe in San Juan, Puerto Rico


in one Explanation FEMA told CBS News on Thursday that LUMA had failed to provide the necessary “transmission and distribution projects to evaluate and approve construction funds.”

Wayne Stensby, CEO of LUMA added, “We value our relationship and partnership with FEMA. There is clearly work to be done and we look forward to continuing to work together to get this done for Puerto Rico. That is a common goal.”

The investigation into the power outage is ongoing.

Additional coverage from The Associated Press.

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