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*ABC NEWS 2017 (Trump is Right): Puerto Rico Power Grid Falling Apart before Maria Hit

Posted by FactReal on September 13, 2018

In October 2017, ABC News agreed with President Trump that the electricity problems in Puerto Rico started long before the 2017 hurricanes.

Here is part of ABC News article[1]: [Emphasis added]

By ERIN DOOLEY Oct 18, 2017, 4:31 PM ET

[President Trump] has repeatedly blamed some of the devastation on the island’s outdated power grid, which was “poorly maintained, corruptly managed,” and “wasn’t in good shape to start off with.” […]

And while some may criticize his seeming willingness to dismiss the island’s humanitarian crisis, there is evidence to back up his [Trump’s] comments about the commonwealth’s ailing power grid.

Just 10 months before Maria struck, a scathing report commissioned by the Puerto Rican Electrical Power Authority (PREPA) warned that the energy infrastructure was facing a “crisis.”

The 218-page study[2], released by Synapse Energy Associates in November 2016, argued that Puerto Rico’s power grid is “literally falling apart,” and noted that Perto Ricans [sic] suffer service outages at rates four to five times higher average U.S. utilities customers.

The group blamed the situation on inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, loss of competent staff, and “a myopic management focus on large risky bets.

According to Sergio Marxuach, Policy Director at the non-partisan Center for a New Economy, simple tasks, like pruning the trees that toppled lines during the storm, were postponed due to PREPA’s budget woes. The company was so short of cash that it had filed for bankruptcy before Maria hit.[…]

“The lack of maintenance possibly magnified the damage to the grid that the hurricane created here,” he added. “If that work had been done, perhaps the damage in some areas would not have been as bad.”

PREPA — a virtual monopoly led by political appointees, whom Marxauch says are generally “averse to change” — relies on outdated technology, says the report.

The average generation plant on the island is around 44 years old, “significantly older” than the average plant in the continental U.S. About 70 percent of the generators rely on oil, rather than fuels favored by the mainland, like natural gas, Marxuach said. And unlike states in the lower 48, Puerto Rico can’t use an emergency line from a neighboring grid to borrow power during an outage.

Last fall, less than a year before the Maria hit, a power plant fire sparked a massive blackout that lasted nearly three days, leaving most of the island’s sweltering residents without power or water services for around 60 hours.

“It is difficult to overstate the level of disrepair or operational neglect” at PREPA facilities, the Synapse report said. “PREPA’s system today appears to be running on fumes.”

(Hat tip: QuickNewsVault)

[1] ABC News: Puerto Rico warned power grid ‘literally falling apart’ before Maria hit (Oct 18, 2017)
[2] Study:The 218-page study by Synapse Energy Associates (released in November 2016)

REUTERS 2017 (Trump is Right): The Bankrupt Utility behind Puerto Rico’s Power Crisis … before Hurricane Maria
WASHINGTON POST 2017 (Trump is Right): Hurricane Maria’s Blow to Puerto Rico’s Bankrupt Utility and Fragile Electric Grid
LA TIMES 2017 (Trump is Right): Puerto Rico’s Power Grid on Life Support long before the 2017 Hurricanes

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