Puerto Rico power outage continues as Hurricane Fiona heads north

An estimated 928,000 homes and businesses were still without power in Puerto Rico on Friday morning after Hurricane Fiona hit on Sunday, causing an island-wide power outage for its roughly 3.3 million people.

Hurricane Fiona was passing Bermuda heading towards Nova Scotia in Canada, classed as a major hurricane with winds of up to 125mph (200km/h). The storm has killed at least eight people.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sunday, five years after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island.

Poweroutages.com, which estimates outages based on utility data, noted that almost a million customers were without service early Friday based on information from Luma Energy, the private entity that operates Puerto Rico’s grid.

There were roughly 1.033 million customers without power early on Thursday out of 1.468 million total customers, according to Poweroutages.com.

That pace of restoration is faster than after Maria – when almost all 1.5 million customers had no power for a week. At that time the now bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) was still operating the grid.

It took Prepa about 11 months to restore power to all customers, but Maria was a much more powerful storm than Fiona.

Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017 as a category 4 hurricane with winds of 155mph, while Fiona hit as a category 1 storm with winds of 85mph.

Luma Energy said late on Thursday that it had restored service to nearly 474,300 customers. Luma has said “full restoration could take several days”.

Luma is a joint venture owned by units of the Canadian energy firm Atco Ltd (50%) and US energy contractor Quanta Services Inc (50%).

Prepa still owns much of Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure. Luma won a contract to operate the grid in 2020 and started managing that system in 2021.

The Guardian