Puerto Rico Power Co. Says ‘Sabotage’ May be to Blame for Blackout
(Bloomberg) -- The head of Puerto Rico’s power company said a blackout Tuesday that affected more than 400,000 customers was a “man-made” event that could have been act of “sabotage.”
Speaking to WKAQ radio Wednesday, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority CEO Jose Ortiz said that he will be asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine the incident that knocked out power to a large swath of the island for several hours Tuesday.
“What I can tell you is that there was manipulation,” he said of the blackout. “Either this was an oversight on someone’s part or it was an act of sabotage.”
Ortiz said a breaker box had been manually tripped “taking away all the safeguards.”
The news comes as tensions are running high between the power company, known as Prepa, and the UTIER electrical workers’ union. The Union has been staging a series of protests and strikes against Prepa’s decision to outsource the power transmission and distribution system to a U.S.-Canadian consortium called Luma Energy.
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On the same radio program, UTIER President Angel Figueroa Jaramillo blamed the blackout on the islands’ ailing infrastructure and dared Ortiz to reiterate his sabotage claim under oath.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth of 3.2 million people, is expecting heavy rains and flash flooding late Wednesday that officials have already warned will likely lead to more power outages.
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