U.S. Pulls Puerto Rico Backup Power Before Hurricane Season Peak

(Bloomberg) -- Just a month into the Atlantic hurricane season, Puerto Rico -- which saw its entire power grid collapse when storms slammed into the U.S. territory last year -- is about to lose some of its back-up power generation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been responsible for leasing three “mega,” back-up power plants in Puerto Rico as it recovered from hurricanes Irma and Maria that took out power to about a million households there last year. Now that service has been restored, the agency is canceling a contract for one of those generators, at Yabucoa, in eight days. The other two at Palo Seco are running on a one-month contract extension, Puerto Rico’s utility said.

“It has been determined that the Yabucoa Power Plant has stable power transmission,” Jenn Miller, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps, said by email Tuesday.

That is, for now. The Atlantic storm season began June 1, but the most ferocious storms don’t usually form until late August to September in the ocean east of Puerto Rico, which puts the island in their path. Colorado State University most recently forecast that the season would yield 11 named storms, with four of those potentially becoming hurricanes and one growing into a major system with winds of at least 111 miles (179 kilometers) an hour.

Earlier this week, tens of thousands of customers in Puerto Rico lost power once again as the remnants of Hurricane Beryl lashed the island with rain and wind.

While the mega-generators are being dismantled, Miller said other generators are being refurbished and will remain stored on the island for potential use during this year’s hurricane season. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Logistics Agency will ultimately decide how many generators will remain in Puerto Rico, she said.

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