We still don’t know how many people have power in Puerto Rico

by | Nov 27, 2017 | Headlines, Puerto Rico | Comments

“In this house, we need power” decries a Twitter account known to followers as “puerto rico PUR,” a Puerto Rican Tourism profile.

It has been months without power for many parts of the islands and the recovery of the islands’ power grid is progressing slowly. While some parts of the islands have recovered power, there is still much work to be done. Governor Rosselló mentioned a recovery goal has been met: power generation is at 50% capacity of pre-hurricane numbers. Yet, a power outage in San Juan shows that restoring the power grid fully by early next year is a big task not yet within grasp. Government released numbers are also controversial. They are inflating the numbers by including places running on generators and not just the power grid. The numbers do not represent the total number of homes and businesses that have power, but rather the total amount of power that is being generated.

A map provided by the government shows that 42% of the territory has full power coverage and running water, but this number only takes into account the power that was being supplied to the islands before the storm. According to individual municipalities, many of their citizens in private residences are still left with little to no power at all. Governor Rosselló had promised 95 percent power restoration by the end of December, however, US Army troops are now estimating about 75& ener% restoration by the end of January.

This is not to say that the individual homes were without power previous to the storm, but rather that the government is comparing the total outputs from the power company both before and after the storm. It is clear that the government’s main focus is on restoring power to emergency services and government operations, as well as water pumps. These operations require much higher energy outputs, which explains the misleading numbers on power restoration. While the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is pumping out a large amount of electricity, the number of individuals in their homes receiving power remains unclear.

Evans Castro Aponte, a PREPA employee estimates that as little as five percent of citizens have power. Many municipalities are still not able to communicate as well, which leaves a large gap in fully understanding what total recovery will look like for the islands of Puerto Rico. While the Puerto Rican government is rushing to bring power generation to its fullest, it may be in a hurry to fulfill an arbitrary number of power generation. Meaning that, potentially, the people of Puerto Rico won’t feel the effect, but the government will be able to frame the achievement as a success.