Almost a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island’s already precarious infrastructure, Puerto Rico’s sole provider of electricity says power has been returned to all homes, although the reality may be more complicated.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has been working since last September to restore power to the 1.5 million residents who lost electricity from Hurricane Maria. PREPA tweeted an image as it returned electricity to the final customer, a family in a rural area in the island’s south. A PREPA engineer told ABC News that bringing power to the rural area took “more than two weeks working to make roads and excavators bringing and raising electrical poles.”
The blackout was one of the largest ever and it cost more than $3 billion to restore power to the island, money PREPA can not afford as the company is bankrupt and about $9 billion in debt. In January, Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced plans to sell the company, which has had five CEOs in the 11 months since Hurricane Maria. The most recent CEO, Rafael Diaz-Granados, and five of seven board members resigned in protest after Rosselló blasted the board for approving a $750,000 a year salary for Diaz-Granados.
While great strides have been made to restore power to the island, some Puerto Ricans say PREPA’s claim that electricity has been restored across the island are not true. Residents in El Yunque National Forest, in the island’s northeast, told CNN that power has yet to be restored due to struggles between the U.S. Forest Service and PREPA.