Puerto Rico governor urges cancellation of private company contract after massive blackout

By Manuel Crespo Feliciano, Accuweather en Español staff writer
April 20, 2018, 8:27:20 AM EDT

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday's island-wide blackout, caused by an excavator next to a power transmission line in the south part of the island, was “unacceptable.”

Cobra Energy, which has been working in Puerto Rico to restore service since October 2017, following Hurricane Maria's rampage, was reportedly responsible for the incident.

Even though power has been restored to all of the 1.4 million customers that were affected by Wednesday's island-wide blackout, Rosselló said that it is unacceptable for this type of outage to occur on the island.

Rosselló said that it is surprising that a territory with 3.5 million inhabitants has been completely dark due to negligence in the work carried out by a simple excavator.

He cataloged Wednesday's event as a reminder that should help to continue with the “goal of transforming Puerto Rico's electrical system and guarantee a quality service.”

Last January, Rosselló announced in a televised message the privatization process of PREPA as part of his plan to transform the island's energy system.

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PR gov. April 2018 blackout

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on hurricane recovery, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Possible cancellation of contract

Roselló urged in a press conference Wednesday that the contract of the company responsible for this blackout should be canceled.

After the incident, the deputy director of PREPA, Justo González, blamed the private company Cobra Energy for the accident that occurred while removing a collapsed tower with the aforementioned excavator.

Cobra Energy is one of the North American companies that has presence on the island to restore the energy system, after Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico.

The company is a subsidiary of the company Mammoth Energy Services, Inc. and since Feb. 27, 2018, it has been under a modified contract with PREPA modification for an increased total amount of $945 million to address additional work requirements.

Last week, the company also was blamed for a breakdown that affected the center and north of the island, leaving over 700,000 customers of PREPA without energy service.

Cobra Energy reacts

The Director of Mammoth Energy Don Crist told AccuWeather that “despite the frailty of the existing electrical infrastructure system, Cobra is dedicated to the difficult work that lies ahead and continues to work around-the-clock with PREPA and the citizens of Puerto Rico to repair the entire infrastructure system to prevent outages such as this one from affecting the entire population on the island.”

Before the blackout, about 42,000 customers still did not have normal electricity service nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria's impact.

Hospitals, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the pumping systems of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA) and the banking centers are being prioritized, according to PREPA.


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