Energy sector leaders estimate that rebuilding the grid will take eight years

The reconstruction of electric system –devastated almost six years ago by the Hurricane Maria– could take between two and eight yearssaid this Friday the executive director of the Electric Power Authority (AEE), Joshua Columbuswho estimated that the generation fleet would be the first to be optimized.

According to Columbus, “in the case of generation, (managed and operated by the company Generate PR), 11 new machines are being acquired, which will add reserve response capacity and another series of auxiliary services that will serve these units, which, in addition, will help the electrical system to integrate more renewable energy.”

After setting the time that the work would take in generation at two or three years, Colon commented that the equipment that is being acquired “must be sent to be manufactured.” “This manufacturing will take at least two years, but the machines will arrive. In other words, the auction, even the specifications, are there, the money is there, and they are going to be manufactured and they are going to arrive in Puerto Rico and they are going to be installed. I have no doubt about that. And that project is a large project, which I would tell you, in two or three years, should be completed,” he added.

While, in the area of ​​transmission and distribution, in charge of the consortium LUMA Energythe time to replace substations, poles and cables would be six to eight yearsColumbus averaged.

“This reconstruction of 30,000 miles of cable at voltages of 4,000, 13,000 for distribution, and over 3,500 miles at voltages of 38,000, 115,000, and 230,000 (in transmission) is going to take between six and eight years because the topography of Puerto Rico is not the same. from Texas. I don’t stop here and look over there, I see four miles down there. In other words, it doesn’t even pass two miles that there is a hill, a mountain or something there. Therefore, the topography directly impacts the network reconstruction work,” he explained.

Colon outlined these expectations after participating in a dialogue table with the legislator Victor Paresappointed by the minority of the New Progressive Party (PNP) in the House of Representatives to monitor the rebuilding of the network. Representatives of LUMA and Genera PR also participated in the dialogue.

When will the blackouts end?

Among those present, there was no promise as to when the interruptions in serviceboth due to generation deficits and breakdowns, which cause so much discomfort among subscribers.

Colon, who took the lead before the press and expressed himself in favor of the private companies that operate the electrical system, only said in this regard that, in the past year and a half, generation has increased by 1,000 volts.

For his part, the vice president of Regulation of LUMA, Mario Hurtadoargued that the progress made by the consortium, so far, has led to a 25% reduction in the time a subscriber is without power. However, he could not specify how long that period is.

“The topography directly impacts the network reconstruction work.”

Josue Colon, executive director of PREPA

“The reconstruction is taking place as we are talking here. I think they are comparing the way in which works are carried out, in the other facets of the reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and, in the case of energy, it is not the same. In other words, there are going to be very few times that you are going to go somewhere to cut a tape, because a cable got stuck. The cable was put in and is working, the pole was installed and is working, the unit was serviced and is syncing. There is no ribbon cutting. Because? Because the electrical system has to continue working. There isn’t much time to spend advertising.”, Colon pointed out, meanwhile, when defending that the work is being carried out without public exhibition.

According to Hurtado, the improvements that LUMA makes are mainly focused on the sectors that are most affected by breakdowns, although he clarified that mountainous communities and areas of difficult access are also served, whose works are carried out with helicopters.

Likewise, he highlighted that the new poles that are being installed are capable of withstanding winds of up to 165 miles per hour. However, Hurtado and Colon They admitted that, if the island is hit again by a hurricanethe electrical service will fail. In this regard, they reiterated that they are prepared to respond and restore as soon as possible.

there will be more meetings

On the other hand, after making known the route traced to improve the electrical service with the more than $10,000 million assigned by the federal government for these purposes, Pares informed that he will hold periodic meetings with officials from PREPA, LUMA and Genera PR.

“The spokesman (Carlos) ‘Johnny’ Mendez delegated this job to me, to know, for real, how we are working to reach that goal. Certainly, it is going to be hard, long-term work, but we want real goals.”stressed the PNP representative.

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