Earthquake Damage Could Leave Major Puerto Rico Power Plant Out Of Action For A Year, Official Says

Jan 9, 2020, 9:14 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:03 pm
A crucial Puerto Rico power plant damaged in this week's earthquakes could be out of operation for ...
A crucial Puerto Rico power plant damaged in this week's earthquakes could be out of operation for more than a year, according to Jose Ortiz, the head of the island's Electric Energy Authority. (Gabrielle N. Baez for CNN)
(Gabrielle N. Baez for CNN)

(CNN) – A crucial Puerto Rico power plant damaged in this week’s earthquakes could be out of operation for more than a year, the head of the island’s Electric Energy Authority told CBS News.

Power has been restored to about 33% of customers in Puerto Rico after a series of earthquakes since December 28, an official with the power utility said Wednesday. At least 75% of homes are expected to have power by the weekend.

But the Costa Sur Power Plant in Guayanilla suffered extensive damage in this week’s quakes. And the facility, which provides about a quarter of the island’s power, “will be out for probably over a year,” Puerto Rico Electric Energy Authority CEO Jose Ortiz said in an interview that aired on Thursday’s “CBS This Morning.”

Another complicating factor is the fact the plant’s equipment is decades old, Ortiz said.

“To be honest, those plants have over 60 years, basically,” he said. “Imagine you have a taxi, 60 years old, and you are required to run that 24/7.”

The plant’s operations manager, Angel Perez, appeared to differ on the timeline in a separate interview with CBS, saying it would be “no less than a month.” He said they would work “24 hours around the clock” to get the plant back up and running.

Officials are expected to hold a news conference Thursday to provide an update on their efforts to restore power.

Hundreds of tremors have struck Puerto Rico since December 28, with Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude quake being the strongest and likely the most damaging. The quake, centered off the southern coast, left one man dead and caused dozens of homes and structures to crumble.

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Earthquake Damage Could Leave Major Puerto Rico Power Plant Out Of Action For A Year, Official Says