Puerto Rico and Electric Power Restoration from Hurricane Maria [October 3, 2017] [open pdf - 134KB]
"Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm with sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour on September 20, 2017. The hurricane also brought torrential rainfall with over 20 inches of rain resulting in widespread flooding across the island. Puerto Rico's office of emergency management reported that the storm had incapacitated the central electric power system, leaving the entire island without power. Many wooden electric distribution poles have been knocked down, while some steel transmission system towers stand stripped of power lines. Recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria have focused on restoring electricity to hospitals, water plants, and some industries. The U.S. territory was already in recovery mode following Hurricane Irma, which struck the island on September 6, 2017, leaving 70% of electricity customers without power. Officials are estimating that many of Puerto Rico's 3.5 million people could be without electricity for up to six months. The Commonwealth is beginning the process of evaluating the damage, as helicopters are now able to fly over transmission line routes. Recovery efforts will likely be further slowed as personnel, trucks, and equipment as aid from other electric utilities (which mainland companies typically rely on; see CRS Report R42696, Weather-Related Power Outages and Electric System Resiliency) will have to be brought in by sea and air. As of October 3, 2017, approximately 5.4% of electricity customers have had their power restored. Assistance from mainland companies with fuel system and transportation expertise are just now deploying to the island."
CRS Insight, IN10785
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html