After weeks of repairs, Puerto Rico was hit Thursday night with a major power outage that has thrown a substantial portion of the island back into darkness.
As the New York Times reports, a major power line serving the northern half of Puerto Rico failed Thursday night, knocking out electricity to seven cities, including the capital, San Juan, which had only recently regained power. The line failure means about 25 percent of the island has power Friday, according to HuffPost. Before the outage, 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity had been restored.
The power line, which runs from Cambalache to Manatí in the island’s north, providing power to Puerto Rico’s capital city, is one of the major sections of the power grid that Montana firm Whitefish Energy was working on as part of its controversial contract with PREPA.
In a Nov. 3 press release, Whitefish Energy said that its team had restored transmission lines and towers to “more than 10 miles from Cambalache transmission center to Manati (line 50100).”
The Montana-based firm is the subject of an FBI investigation after it received a controversial $300 million contract from Puerto Rico’s power authority to conduct repairs to the island’s devastated power grid. The contract was revoked late last month.
Both Whitefish and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority deny that the outage was related to the firm’s repairs.
As one Puerto Rican business owner affected by the outage told the Times, many residents feel at—or past—the breaking point.
“I have spent $8,000 on broken generators,” Rosita Aponte told the paper. “At this point, 50 days into this, everyone has a broken generator. You are not supposed to be living on these things.”
According to HuffPost, the blackout happened as the Federal Emergency Management Agency was arranging to fly Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria to hotels in Florida and New York—the first such relocation plan of its kind for the federal aid agency. More than a month after the storm made landfall on the island, nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans are still living in shelters.
Ricardo Ramos Rodriguez, PREPA’s executive director, told CNN that officials hope to restore the island’s electricity back to the 42 percent mark by Friday.