By Preston ChasteenMarch 9, 2018
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Since Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico nearly six months ago, a combined effort from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the utility industry continues to restore reliable power to the people of Puerto Rico.
In mid-October, USACE began issuing line restoration contracts in support of emergency power grid repairs.
To date, USACE partnerships with PREPA and the utility industry have restored power to 90.19 percent of customers, or more than 1,328,490 million clients.
This means fewer than 145,000 clients remain without service since Hurricane Maria devastated the island and its power grid, and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue in a unified effort to safely restore reliable power to these citizens as quickly as possible.
The Unified Command, consisting of PREPA, USACE, FEMA and the island's Restoration Coordinator, previously estimated the date for restoration of electricity to 90 to 95 percent of customers across the island as March 31.
Restoration in 35 municipalities is now 95 percent or greater, and six municipalities are 100 percent restored. Municipalities in more remote areas with challenging terrain -- such as the municipalities of Arecibo, Caguas, and the surrounding areas where Hurricane Maria caused significant damage -- remain less than 80 percent restored. Reaching 90 to 95 percent of customers restored in these regions will take until mid-April or late-May.
Crews are converging into these hardest-hit areas and working aggressively to restore smaller groups of outages throughout the island.
"Alongside our restoration partners from FEMA, PREPA and the utility industry, we remain focused on restoring power to the Puerto Rican people -- 90 percent restoration of the devastated grid is a notable milestone and a long way from the 20 percent start point -- but our efforts continue on the work remaining," said Col. Jason Kirk, USACE Power Restoration Task Force lead.
The Unified Command will continue to re-position some of the more than 3,700 workers remaining on the island, in accordance with PREPA's Master Plan.
These measures over the next several weeks will continue to maximize manpower and material against remaining priority lines to achieve the paramount objective of restoration of power for all citizens of Puerto Rico.