US Repair of Puerto Rico’s power grid won’t be complete until May, Army Corps of Engineers says

02:27  14 december  2017
02:27  14 december  2017 Source:   Bloomberg

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Army Corps of Engineers chief says 95% in December impossible. That restoration target won ’ t be met until end of February. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority employees fix power lines in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico , on Oct.

John Lloyd, who leads the U. S . Army Corps of Engineers mission to restore power to Puerto Rico , stands in front of the strategy map highlighting key transmission lines. "It just is one of the most challenging missions that we've really faced,” he told us.

In this Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, Whitefish Energy Holdings workers restore power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. © (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File) In this Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, Whitefish Energy Holdings workers restore power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

(Bloomberg) -- Puerto Rico’s electrical grid is unlikely to be fully restored until the end of May, the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday -- months longer than the timeline offered by the island’s governor.

Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, commanding general and chief engineer for the Corps, said in an interview Wednesday that he expects the Puerto Rico’s electric grid to reach 75 percent of customers by the end of January, 95 percent by the end of February, and 100 percent by the end of May, more than eight months after Hurricane Maria hit.

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WASHINGTON – The U. S . Army Corps of Engineers is leading the effort to get power back on in Puerto Rico , a task complicated by the island’ s remote location, fiscal crisis and a power grid that was degraded even before Hurricane Maria’ s devastating toll.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- The U. S . Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in coordination with the Huntsville Engineering and Support Center, has awarded a contract today towards the repair of the power grid in Puerto Rico .

That departs from statements by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello, who said in October that he hoped power would be restored to 95 percent of the grid by Dec. 15. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority made a similar pledge last month, saying it would reach 95 percent of customers by the end of December.

The slow pace of restoring electricity following Hurricane Maria has become shorthand for the U.S. government’s uneven response. Just 61 percent of electricity had been restored as of Wednesday, according to data on a website run by the island’s government.

The Army Corps is a key part of a task force of U.S. government and outside groups working with Puerto Rico’s government to restore power on the island.

Semonite said he had told Rossello on Oct. 27 that the Dec. 15 timeline was unrealistic. "Governor, there’s no way you’re going to get 95 percent" by that point, Semonite recounted telling Rossello. "And he was very, very upset."

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José Sánchez, who heads the Army Corps of Engineers efforts to restore the power grid in Puerto Rico , says the repair work is slowest is in the southeastern part of the island where Hurricane Maria made landfall.

News for U. S . Army Corps of Engineers continually updated from thousands of sources on the web : 'Brutal' Projections for Ohio River Basin. Irving Based Fluor Awarded 1 Million Contract to Help Repair Power Grid in Puerto Rico

"The bottom line is, he ought to be upset, because all of his people ought to have electricity," Semonite said. "We’re just as compassionate as the governor is at getting his guys electricity. That’s why I have 700 guys that are going to be there over Christmas."

To illustrate the challenge of getting the grid fully restored, Semonite described flying over a cluster of four homes on the top of a mountain, fed by a single wire that goes up the side of a cliff.

"Those four houses, what I call the last mile, they’re going to take a long time. So I said probably the end of May to get to 100 percent. I’d love to go faster."

Yennifer Alvarez, a spokeswoman for Rossello’s administration, didn’t immediately have a comment. 

--With assistance from Yalixa Rivera

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Flavelle in Washington at cflavelle@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Mark Drajem

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

Puerto Rico fears economic downturn from new tax overhaul .
The sweeping federal tax rewrite approved Wednesday outraged officials in Puerto Rico, who said it threatens to crush the backbone of the island's economy at a time when they need substantial help recovering from Hurricane Maria.The bill approved by the Republican-controlled House and Senate contains a 12.5 percent tax on intangible assets that could affect dozens of U.S. manufacturing companies operating in the U.S. territory. Puerto Rican officials accused some federal legislators of turning their backs after they visited the U.S. territory post-hurricane and pledged their help.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/us/-106191-repair-of-puerto-rico-s-power-grid-won-t-be-complete-until-may-army-corps-of-engineers-says/

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