News Tech: A massive power outage hit Puerto Rico late Wednesday, plunging about 350,000 customers into darkness after a fire started at one of the largest power plants in the US territory. The blackout is one of the biggest in recent months for the island’s crumbling power grid, and its recurring blackouts have gotten worse in recent years. The suspension prompted a collective groan from people across Puerto Rico, with many dependent on insulin and respiratory therapy again worried about how long it would take. “Apagón!” took to social media to complain about many customers, using the Spanish word for failure.
Puerto Rico’s fire department worked late into the night to fight the fire as frustration and anger over another blackout continued to mount. Carian Montull, 36, said she was in a clothing store in southern Puerto Rico when the lights went out. She said the store’s generator didn’t turn on, forcing her and about a dozen other customers to stop shopping and go home. She said someone nearby said, “The lights really went out!? Montal says she doesn’t have a generator at home and wants the electricity back soon so the food in her fridge doesn’t spoil.
His Luma, a private company that took over transmission and distribution from Puerto Rico’s Power Authority last year, said in a statement that power might not be restored until Thursday “given the scale and extent” of the outage. “The power grid has suffered a major blackout across the island, probably due to a circuit breaker failure at the Costasur power plant. The exact cause is currently unknown,” the company said. Costa Sur is he one of four major power plants located on the island.
Luma said she will release additional information once details are finalized. When he took over transmission and distribution in June, the then governor said the company had pledged to cut blackouts by 30% and cut blackout periods by 40%. Fires erupted, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. Another power plant fire in September 2016 caused an island-wide power outage. A year later, Hurricane Maria hit, destroying the island’s fragile power grid and leaving some customers without power for nearly a year.