Puerto Rico - Black Out A police officer directed cars along R.H. Tood Avenue after a crash near an intersection during a blackout in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early Thursday, when more than a million customers remained without electricity.
Image via AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González asked the Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing with those responsible, given the lack of urgency to resolve the situation.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) described Puerto Rico’s electrical grid as dangerous, after last Wednesday’s power outage left the entire island without electricity. 

Grijalva, who is the president of the Committee on Natural Resources, said the committee is monitoring the situation, and that they have been in communication with officials who fought the fire that started at the Costa Sur power plant.

“The island’s outdated power grid is clearly a hazard. Its failures are disrupting lives, closing schools and workplaces, and endangering a health care system in the midst of an ongoing pandemic,” Grijalva said in a news release.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González asked Grijalva to summon the principal electric grid officials and local government officials to a hearing, so that they can be held accountable for their lack of urgency to repair the gride, despite the fact that FEMA has approved $9.6 billion to do so.

“Following the disasters, I secured and advocated for access to $9.6 billion through FEMA and $1.9 billion through CDBG-DR funds for energy issues; for a total of $11.5 billion. There is no excuse that we don’t have the resources to modernize the system because the money is there. What is missing is a sense of urgency and the parties must be held accountable for the delay in the use of federal funds,” González said in a statement.

The commissioner requested that officials from the following entities be summoned to the hearing to explain what work has been done and what is projected: PREPA, LUMA Energy, the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, FEMA, and the Office of Electricity of the Department of Energy.

Last week, FEMA said that since the $9.25 billion was approved in September 2020 for the reconstruction and modernization of the island’s electrical system, they have not received transmission and distribution proposals from LUMA or PREPA.

They have only received five proposals for substations and five proposals for improvements to four-generation plants.