Just under 28,000 clients of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) continued without service at about 11:00 a.m. Today, Sunday, as confirmed by the public corporation, whose employees continued to work to try to restore service to as many customers as possible.
As detailed by Fernando Padilla, director of the Office of Project Management, Restoration and Fiscal Affairs , “Right now (11:00 am) there are a little less than 28,000 customers without service. That represents 1.9% of the Authority's customer base. There are 98.1% with service. And we have seen consistency in the service. ”
He further stated that they are not“ mending ”, but are making sure that the repairs that are made“ bring the infrastructure to a condition equal to or better than it was before the storm "
" What I mean is, we are having a hurricane season in the works, so we are not going to use patches. If a segment of wire breaks, it is completely new; if a pole broke, a new one will be installed; a crosshead is gone, it is completely new; the transformer base is damaged, it is new. We are trying to insert everything to a level as it was or better. We want to be in the best possible conditions to face the hurricane season, "said Padilla.
The executive insisted that they are working hard so that as many customers as possible have the service" and we understand that we are going to end today. " However, he warned that “there will always be a minimum number, less than 1%, which will remain pending.”
“We have also had breakdowns that happen daily at PREPA (PREPA), which do not have to do with the riot. But we are going to be over 99% when the day is over, "he said.
Padilla said he understood the frustration of the people who lost the electricity service, but assured that they worked diligently and 420,000 customers were reconnected in just 72 hours.
“I can fully understand the people's frustrations and impatience. But the repair of the electrical system requires a very high level of security, "he said. “And how could we reconnect 420,000 clients in 72 hours? For the preparation of inventory that we have, the preparation of equipment, machinery, preparation in recovery coordination. PREPA (PREPA) has plans and that is coordinated in advance according to where the storm comes from. We had the staff, materials, private contractors ready to immediately mobilize them. And if necessary, the collaboration agreements with companies from other states would also have been activated. ”
At the peak of the blackout during the passage of tropical storm Isaías, some 450,000 customers were left without service. Padilla maintained that this type of massive blackout is not unique to Puerto Rico and occurs anywhere in the world when there are storms, hurricanes, or snow or sand storms.
“And the storm cannot be underestimated. It had strong winds. I passed the storm in the southwest and the winds in Cabo Rojo, you can ask anyone, they were a Category 1 hurricane. And we cannot think that a storm will not leave people without light. People are always going to run out of service, ”he insisted. “But how can we measure the performance of the system? Looking at how long it takes to recover the system. And we recovered almost 300,000 clients between Friday and Saturday. ”
Padilla also stressed that PREPA workers currently also work“ under the distancing and security protocols by COVID (-19). That adds difficulty to the operation. All this adds complexity when operating, when moving equipment, distributing it. All these protocols must be added. You have to sanitize the equipment, the trucks, at every shift change, to safeguard the employee. ”
Primera Hora asked him why, beyond the areas that suffered the strongest impact of the storm, there were so many clients dark, as they occur in downtown, eastern, and metropolitan areas.
“The problem in the metropolitan area is the density of customers. In the metropolitan area, for each square mile, it has seven to eight times the number of clients than in the rest of the Island. And that is a great complexity of infrastructure, substations, distribution lines, transmission lines, and transformers. And that leads to another complication, which is that there is a lot of backyard line, which I have to go through the client's yard. And they are towers, poles, high voltage cables. In one of those housing estates, imagine if a pole falls back there. We cannot fit the same machinery as on a highway. It requires other machinery, more people, more labor force. And all the clients that are connected to that post, to that line are affected. There are some elements, some characteristics, that you don't have in the rest of Puerto Rico, "he explained.
He added that other natural situations also occur over which they have no control and that require waiting time, as happened with a substation in Anthills that flooded.
“It is a substation that ties a significant number of customers. So we have flooding in the substation and can only wait for the water to go down. And we also lost four posts of transmission towers and that takes time to repair, "he said.
He added that it was for Friday night that they could start working in Cabo Rojo, " but there are areas of Cabo Rojo , San Germán, Mayagüez and Hormigueros that still do not have service. ”
He added that they are already working on a breakdown in Cayey and Trujillo Alto that they hope will return service to many customers. "We are watching the weather, but we are going to work until the weather conditions allow it."
"That is why you see that sometimes many customers enter in a short time, because you fix that breakdown and that whole group is fed from that part ”, he commented. “But sometimes some urbanizations also enter and a part has no service. And it is that there are faults that are not seen, that it is not a broken post, or a cable that fell. It is something that is not seen and you have to review it in more detail. ”
Finally, Padilla reiterated his confidence that“ we hope that most of the clients will connect today ”and called on all clients to continue reporting the breakdowns to address them as soon as possible.
“We urge people to contact us on social media, on Twitter @AEEOnline, and on Facebook. There they can report faults. We have our team constantly monitoring social networks and we communicate with the work teams on the street, "he said.
" They can also call the 'call center', at the number 787-521-3434. There is a high volume of calls, because the normal payment operation and everything else continues, but customers will be prioritized for restoration of service. It may take time, but they will assist you and we will help you, "he added, indicating that the waiting time would decrease as service to more customers is restored.