San Juan, Jun 11 (EFE).- Private electricity company LUMA Energy, which took over power transmission and distribution in Puerto Rico on June 1, announced Thursday that some 400,000 customers are still without electricity after a fire broke out at a substation in a town near capital San Juan.
“Currently 400,000 customers remain without service. It has already been resumed in several sectors of the San Juan metropolitan area,” the company said in a tweet.
Initially, 700,000 customers were without electricity.
Earlier, the FBI said that it was evaluating the situation, while Puerto Rico’s representative in the United States Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez, said that the outage, along with blackouts that have occurred in recent days, did not seem to be isolated events.
“I have alerted federal law enforcement agencies to investigate each event. They are harming the people, they are the ones who suffer,” she said.
Meanwhile, the company said that the problem “has been isolated and restoration has begun, but it will take all night to reach all areas.”
Since LUMA took over the operation of the power grid 10 days ago, there have been several outages in many neighborhoods of several cities on the island, affecting nearly a million people so far.
“A fire broke out in a transformer at LUMA’s Monacillo substation. The protection systems interrupted the electrical service. The restoration will begin in two hours and continue through the night,” the company said in a tweet shortly after 6.11 pm Thursday.
“Puerto Rico Police, Fire Department and Medical Emergencies personnel are at the site. No injuries have been reported,” it added.
The fire caused “major blackouts across the island,” according to LUMA.
The company’s president, Wayne Stensby, said at a press conference that the service is expected to be fully restored in six to eight hours.
Among the affected areas are the capital, San Juan, Carolina, Bayamon, Trujillo Alto, Guaynabo, Rio Grande, Loiza and Cataño, as well as sectors of Manatí, Caguas and Canovanas, among others.
Puerto Rico governor Pedro Pierluisi said that “all state and federal law and order authorities are investigating the explosion at the Monacillos electrical substation in Rio Piedras.”
“We are taking all necessary actions to protect essential services, such as electrical service, and all of our government’s resources are activated and available to address this emergency,” he added.
The priority “has to be to restore service as soon as possible and our people can rest assured that we are ensuring that this is the case. At the same time, when we have the results of the investigations related to the cause of this incident, whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the people of Puerto Rico,” he concluded.
Air operations at San Juan international airport have not been affected.
LUMA Energy took over the transmission and distribution of electricity in Puerto Rico, previously in the hands of the state-owned Electric Power Authority (AEE), which led to protests as employees of the state-owned company were moved to the private firm under agreements with the government and its agencies. EFE