Before Hurricane Maria even hit Puerto Rico, Hurricane Irma did a lot of damage by knocking out power for over a million people. Then, about a month and a half later, Maria completely blacked out the territory. This Category 4 hurricane rocked Puerto Rico to the ground, crippling its infrastructure and devastating the lives of millions. Today, just under 50 percent of Puerto Rico has power.
The beginning of the journey to rebuild Puerto Rico was full of useless, disappointing, and disheartening news headlines, including President Trump traveling to the island and throwing out toiletries into a crowd, as well as calling the relief effort’s progress, “a good news story.” On top of this, PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) is in massive debt even prior to the two hurricanes, so reestablishing electricity to the citizens has been quite tough. To make matters even worse, the $300 million Whitefish Energy Holdings deal to restore power to the island was canceled by the Puerto Rican governor who was facing mounting pressure to back out of the deal, as it seemed to be a shady agreement.
I got a chance to talk with the COO (Chief Operations Officer) of APR Energy, Charles Ferry. APR Energy has been at the forefront of helping bring back power to Puerto Rico, by sending two turbines, which each produce about 30 megawatts of power. It took them just fifteen days to set up and have the two turbines be fully functional, which is absolutely incredible. This means that approximately 300,000 more homes now have power.
In the interview, Mr. Ferry said that they hope to provide even more electricity to Puerto Ricans as APR’s technology is “really state of the art” and would be much better than what the citizens had before the storm. He also mentioned that the local power authorities in Puerto Rico have told their citizens to try and use electricity “sparingly,” but Mr. Ferry said that there are currently no restrictions on the Puerto Ricans who do have the power.
Currently, APR Energy is installing a third turbine in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, and it will be finished by December 15th. Furthermore, APR has another turbine on the island ready to be transported to whatever location FEMA, PREPA, and the USACE would see it most fit. So finally, let us hope and pray that all those affected by Hurricane Maria will soon resume their normal lives.
(Below is a picture of the four turbines that are now in Puerto Rico)