Outage Leaves About 350,000 Customers in Puerto Rico Without Power

Authorities in Puerto Rico said they were working to restore electricity after an outage struck the island during maintenance on the electricity grid, leaving about 350,000 customers without power during a heat wave.

The outage, which began late Wednesday, struck after Luma Energy, which transmits and distributes electricity in Puerto Rico, said it was carrying out planned maintenance work on power plants around the island.

Puerto Rico has experienced chronic problems with electricity since 2017, when Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Residents of the island have lived through months of outages, some tied to deaths. The island has struggled to restore power, and its economy has suffered significantly, sparking protests and turning the island’s frail power grid into a political issue.

Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi, who lost his bid for a second term last week, criticized the outage late Wednesday, condemning the power companies’ “lack of sense of urgency” in addressing the problems with the island’s aging power grid that he said had been going on for weeks.

An excessive heat watch was active for many of the areas affected by the outage, including San Juan, as the National Weather Service warned of the risk of heat stroke. Customers lost power in San Juan, the metropolitan area of Carguas and some areas in the northeast of Puerto Rico, Luma Energy said early Thursday.

Mayor Miguel Romero of San Juan, the capital, declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday to provide essential resources to “businesses and residents affected by the constant blackouts.”

Luma Energy said at around 9:40 p.m. that it was investigating the outage, which it said was linked to disturbances in transmission lines. The company said at 12:20 a.m. that efforts to restore service was expected to continue throughout the night, involving local officials and Genera PR, which oversees Puerto Rico’s electricity generation.

Power was restored by 1:30 a.m. for about 50,000 customers, Luma Energy said, adding that it had fixed the transmission line serving the La Plata reservoir, a source of drinking water for the capital region, and several hospitals.

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