Energy and Natural Resources

Logistics Complicate Puerto Rico's Electric Grid Recovery

27 September 2017

Much of Florida had power restored relatively quickly after Hurricane Irma. Source: Energy Information AdministrationMuch of Florida had power restored relatively quickly after Hurricane Irma. Source: Energy Information Administration

Like a careless driver in a fast car, Hurricane Irma plowed through the Leeward Islands in early September. It sideswiped Puerto Rico, knocking out electric power to 1 million people. It ran over Caribbean resort islands, including Saint Kitts and Saint Martin, then skidded north at Key West. Careening up the Florida peninsula, Irma left millions of people without power.

A multi-billion-dollar smart grid investment and an unprecedented repair effort helped Florida Power & Light—the state’s largest utility—restore most service to 4.4 million customers by September 22.

In a statement, the utility credited what it said was one of the largest restoration workforces assembled in U.S. history. Some 28,000 workers from 30 states and Canada had the power back on within 10 days.

Then, almost improbably, a second storm plowed through the Leeward Islands two weeks after Irma. This time, Puerto Rico was hit head-on by Hurricane Maria. Essentially 100 percent of its power was knocked out.

A week after Maria hit, the Defense Department said that 56 percent of the island's residents had no potable water. In addition, 80 percent of the island's electricity transmission system and all of its distribution system were said to be damaged.

Full recovery likely will take months, complicated by the U.S. territory’s financial straits, by the damage across an area the size of Connecticut and by the island’s distance from the mainland; San Juan is more than 1,000 miles from Miami.

“I can’t tell my guys to put trucks on I-95 and drive south,” said Mike Hyland, senior vice president of engineering services for the American Public Power Association (APPA). (Read more.)

To contact the author of this article, email david.wagman@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: Logistics Complicate Puerto Rico's Electric Grid Recovery
#1
2017-Sep-27 5:40 PM

We can not get rid of hurricanes, storms, tonados. But while talking about Smart Grid, to recover the Outages, to minimize the time to fix the problem, we need to know the conenctivity of the grid before and update the status after. Outage Management System without a trusted Network Data & connectivity info, can not help to much. Scada/RM/Sensors system must share lates info with GIS system & GIS system must share the latest status with SCADA etc. For 20 years we are working on smart infrastructure and smart grid. It is difficult yo build a system, moreover it is much difficult to maintain it, witout proper desing of system & workflow.

Because some simple steps are not considered, millions of $ lost, and millions of people needs assistance, needs electric, water etc.

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