Annoyance grows among Puerto Ricans over Power blackouts

Annoyance grows among Puerto Ricans over Power blackouts

No hurricane has hit Puerto Rico this year, but hundreds of thousands of people on the island feel that they are living the ravages caused by a major storm: students do their homework in light of phones that are slowly running out of battery, people who depend on insulin or respiratory therapies are having trouble finding sources of energy and the elderly are fleeing sweltering residences amid record temperatures.

Island-wide blackouts have been more frequent in recent weeks, with some of them lasting several days. The authorities have attributed them to anything: algae and even mechanical failures, while the government points out that the situation is a serious failure that must be solved quickly.

Daily blackouts are causing traffic jams, breaking down expensive appliances, forcing doctors to cancel appointments, causing restaurants, shopping malls and schools to close temporarily, and even causing one university to suspend classes and another to declare a moratorium on exams.

“This is hell here,” said Iris Santiago, 48, who suffers from chronic health problems and often runs out of her home to join her elderly neighbors when the power goes out in her apartment building and the heat reaches 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Like any Puerto Rican, I live in constant anxiety because the electricity is going out every day,” he said. “Not everyone has a family where they can run and get into a house with a plant” of light.

Recently, Santiago went without electricity for three days and had to throw away the spoiled eggs, chicken and milk in his refrigerator. He said electrical surges caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage to his air conditioner and refrigerator.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is responsible for the generation of electricity, and Luma, a private company that is in charge of the transmission and distribution of electricity, have indicated that it is due to mechanical failures in several plants that involve components such as boilers and condensers. In a recent incident, algae clogged filters and a narrow pipe.

Luma has also implemented selective blackouts in recent weeks that have affected most of its 1.5 million clients, signaling that demand is outstripping supply.

The company took over transmission and distribution in June. The governor of Puerto Rico said the company had promised to reduce service interruptions by 30% and the duration of blackouts by 40%.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.