the consortium LUMA Energy and the Electric Power Authority (ESA) reported on Saturday night that some 1.3 million subscribers have electricity and that the service was restored to some 100,000 customers that were left without power again during the afternoon due to a breakdown that occurred at the Aguirre plant.
The general blackout that crosses Puerto Rico since Wednesday night occurred after a breakdown and fire at the Costa Sur plant. The cause is still under investigation.
According to the power grid restoration progress report, as of 11:30 pm on Saturday, Brigades from the consortium and PREPA had restored the service to some 1.3 million subscribers, the same total reached during the morning and which experienced a drop to 1.2 million customers as a result of the incident at the Aguirre plant. In addition, they managed to synchronize some 1,900 megawatts of generation.
However, LUMA warned that service interruptions could occur due to energy demand and ongoing efforts to complete the restoration of electricity throughout the island.
Earlier in the day, LUMA Energy issued the same notice when reporting the failure at the Aguirre plant.
“LUMA and PREPA (Electric Power Authority) teams continue to restore power throughout Puerto Rico and are working hard to restore service as quickly and safely as possible to all remaining customers. While power has been restored to the vast majority of customers, intermittent outages may occur as restoration progresses and depending on generation available Saturday night.”said the president and CEO of LUMA Energy, Wayne Stensby, in a communication sent at 7:24 p.m.
Both LUMA and PREPA again insisted that customers conserve energy “given the generation currently available and the potential energy peaks that will occur during the day and night.”
This morning more than 1,800MW of power generation had been brought online and scaled, but in the afternoon it dropped to 1,700MW.
“The restoration work continues to be a challenge as the LUMA and PREPA teams work to establish and connect more generation during the day and night,” they indicated.
They also urged the consortium’s clients to conserve energy “given the generation currently available and the potential energy peaks that will occur during the day and night.”
“We ask customers to conserve their energy usage throughout Saturday to help reduce energy demand and support the restoration process until more generation comes online,” they added.
Stensby noted in the press release that “We are doing everything we can to minimize this impact while dealing with an energy system that remains very fragile.”
“We understand how frustrating this situation is and we ask our customers for their patience and understanding. LUMA crews will continue to work throughout this event until power is fully restored to all customers,” Stensby said.
In an information update at 8:00 pm, LUMA said that the brigades continue to work throughout the night with the aim of a complete restoration on Sunday morning.
For its part, the public corporation reported that it was able to complete the repair of the condenser of unit 2 of the Aguirre plant, for which operations were normalized, and that they were in the process of increasing generation.
Earlier, at around 5:00 pm, PREPA indicated that it was working on the repair, which would cause the interruption of the service. PREPA added at that time that while the units of the Costa Sur and EcoEléctrica plants “do not return to service, the system will not have the required reserve”.
Yesterday, during a press conference, the executive director of PREPA, Joshua Columbusexplained that the Costa Sur and EcoEléctrica plants, in Peñuelas, are still out of service and that they are waiting for some works to be completed in the transmission and distribution area, in charge of LUMA Energyto “begin unit startup and place them into service”.
Costa Sur and EcoEléctrica (private) are two of the largest plants in Puerto Rico.
The images show the state of the switch area of the Costa Sur plant after the fire that caused the general blackout around 8:30 pm on April 6, 2022. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
The fire destroyed part of the switches and caused the incident that led to the paralysis of electricity generation, not only at the Costa Sur plant, but at other stations around the island. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
The staff of the Fire Department Bureau finally controlled the fire at the plant around 10:30 p.m. on April 6, 2022. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Today, Thursday, April 7, 2022, personnel from the Police Bureau, the Electric Power Authority and the LUMA Energy conglomerate inspected the area to determine what caused the fire. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
LUMA Energy CEO Wayne Stensby said the fire investigation could take several weeks. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Engineer Josué Colón (wearing a blue shirt), executive director of PREPA, indicated at a press conference from the Costa Sur power plant that, at the moment, they do not have a concrete estimate of how long it would take for PREPA and LUMA to restore electricity service. electric power throughout Puerto Rico. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Colón, like Stensby, stressed that, at the moment, they do not know what caused the fire that led to the emergency situation on the island. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Stensby, for his part, explained that LUMA Energy is in a process of “complete restoration” of the electrical grid, while lamenting the impact it has had on Puerto Ricans. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
PREPA personnel go to the switch area at the Costa Sur plant to continue with the repair work to restore service. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Stensby indicated that “we will carry out an investigation into the causes. The investigation has just begun and we will share the results so that we can prevent a blackout like this from happening again.” (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
For his part, engineer Gadiel Hernández, from LUMA Energy, indicated that there was a possibility that the switch that caught fire had exceeded its useful life. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
“I have to look for the file to see, but it must probably be a breaker with over 40 years of service and its useful life of about 30 years must have already expired,” Hernández explained. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Stensby added that LUMA and PREPA personnel worked through the night to restore the affected generation units, high-voltage transmission lines and substations, in order to bring electricity to homes, businesses and industries. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Preliminarily, the executive maintained that the blackout was caused by a fault in a switch in unit number five of the plant. After the fire occurred, the protection system of the electrical network was activated and the other generation plants were turned off. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
Despite the seriousness of the failure, Stensby stressed that the conglomerate’s expectation is that “a large number of customers recover service this afternoon,” but insisted that he cannot estimate when the situation will return to normal. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)
At the moment, over 400,000 subscribers remain without electricity service, and several municipalities also do not have potable water service due to the lack of energy in the pumping plants. (Jorge A. Ramirez Portela)