SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (NWN) — Angered by ongoing power cuts in the US territory of Puerto Rico, more than a thousand people prepared to march Friday to discuss how a power outage could affect their health, work and children’s schooling. has affected.
Many of them demanded the removal of Luma, a private company that took over the transmission and distribution of the island’s electricity on 1 June. Some are also angry with Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, which owns and operates recently deteriorating generation units. week mainly due to lack of maintenance and repair.
“We’re tired of arriving home and finding out we don’t have lights,” said 55-year-old Myra Rivera, who is particularly concerned about her parents, who are in their 90s, and They are facing scorching heat at home.
The demonstration forced the closure of a main street in the capital of San Juan as hundreds of people gathered to march with participants ranging from teenagers to the elderly. Some were wearing T-shirts that read, “Go to hell, Luma.”
Among those preparing for the march was 78-year-old Juan Antonio Rivera, who said the most recent outage left him in the dark for 43 hours this week. The last one damaged two of his computers.
“And it cost $200 to fix one of those!” They said. “I have receipts at home to send to Luma.”
Power outages have become more frequent and prolonged in recent months, with people complaining they can’t give themselves respiratory therapy or have had to throw out insulin or food. Many have also complained that they are unable to work or that their children are unable to attend online classes, and that expensive equipment has been damaged.
The outage happened not only after production units broke down, but also because of the selective blackout announced by Luma, which lasted several hours after officials warned that demand exceeded supply.
A protester who worked as a lineman for the Electric Power Authority dressed in his work clothes with a helmet and tool belt, saying he was frustrated and angry at the outage since his mother had been in bed. He said he was forced to dive into his limited funds to invest in solar panels.
“She will suffer,” he said of the outage.
Puerto Rico’s power grid has become increasingly unstable after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island as a powerful Category 4 hurricane in September 2017. Efforts to strengthen the grid have yet to begin, the government announced Thursday, the first disbursement of federal funds to the Electric Power Authority, with $7.1 million slated for reconstruction work. The money is part of a total of $9.5 billion bound by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild the grid.
The authority’s new director, Josue Koln, said officials have identified various projects totaling $2.4 billion. He also said that the production units are in a “critical condition”.
March comes on the same day that Luma announced it had provided electricity for the first time to a community in the neighboring island of Culebra that relied exclusively on generators or battery-powered solar panels. The company was also authorized on Friday to undertake eight transmission and distribution reconstruction projects worth $117 million.