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Puerto Rico Fighting To Restore Energy After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico 10 months ago and completely destroyed the island’s electric grid system. Now, the efforts to rebuild and replace the grid lays on federal funds and local agencies and so far, $1 billion has been spent on the project. During this insane time to repower the island, two chief executive officers and 4 board members of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority have resigned. The island is in turmoil.

“In spite of missteps in the past, everybody will see that we have the right person at the right time,” said Governor Ricardo Rossello, regarding the resignations. Rossello appointed Jose Ortiz as the new CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, at a salary of $250,000 a year. Before joining the fight for power, Ortiz lead Puerto Rico’s water and sewer agency as president.

Mike Byrne, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s assistant administrator for field operations, weighed in on the project.

“There is no permanent work that’s been done. What I’m worried about is the next level, the permanent work, the going in and building the grid the way I’ve been tasked to do by Congress. The sooner we get moving, the better for all involved.”

Ortiz, the project head, raised concerns about the cost of the project and more specifically the cost of contractors. Cobra, an Oklahoma-based subsidiary of Mammoth Energy, has been given $1.8 billion by the Puerto Rican government with rates of $4,000 per worker per day. Ortiz plans on reevaluating costs.

Many Puerto Rican Politicians have commented on the devastation and the efforts to repowering the island.

“The one reason why so many people died in the aftermath of the hurricane was the lack of energy and the lack of energy comes from how fragile the system was because of years of neglect,” said Senator Eduardo Bhatia.

“The economy is being affected, the quality of life is being affected and the lives of people who depend on the electrical system are being put at risk,” said Rolando Ortiz, the mayor of Cayey.

The island continues to fight for economic stability and energy.

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