Puerto Ricans Furious at Private Power Plant After Multiple Outages

high voltage post.High-voltage tower sky background.

More than 340,000 people in Puerto Rico were in the dark on Wednesday night due to a severe power outage caused by the shutdown of two of the island’s power companies.

The capital city of San Juan, as well as other towns, including Bayamón, Caguas, and Carolina, were left without electricity. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

The 311-mile shoreline in the U.S. Caribbean territory is scorching, with temperatures that feel like 114 degrees Fahrenheit. According to federal forecasts, heat exhaustion or stroke are likely with prolonged exposure. 

The electricity authority of Puerto Rico’s transmission and distribution network, Luma Energy, stated on X that a problem with the power plants’ transmission lines caused the outage. It stated that it was looking into the outage just as Genera PR’s divisions, which manage and maintain state power-producing facilities, were shutting down.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi denounced the outage and declared that he would be holding Luma and Genera PR accountable for their actions.

Under Pierluisi’s direction, Luma and Genera PR were chosen as private operators.

The blackout is the most recent in a run of blackouts to strike Puerto Rico, which is currently attempting to reconstruct the system following Hurricane Maria’s Category 4 destruction of the island in 2017.

Miguel Romero, the mayor of San Juan, declared a state of emergency late Wednesday in response to the outage and accused Luma of providing little information on the ongoing outages.

The order said thousands of older adults frequently need therapy machines to protect their health and often save the lives of children with specific needs.

Many Puerto Ricans, pointing out that the latest outage is happening in the midst of the extreme heat warnings, turned to social media to call for Luma’s dismissal, adding that not everyone on the 3.2 million-person island, where poverty rates exceed 40%, can afford solar panels or generators.

Puerto Ricans who can afford them purchase solar panels, batteries, or generators, but the devices are costly to acquire and fuel, and regular power spikes frequently damage equipment or batteries.