Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria just got a dealt a major blow.A severe power outage swept back over the island Thursday after a mechanical failure on one of its power lines, thrusting millions of Puerto Ricans back into the dark.The technical failure knocked out roughly a quarter of the entire island’s power, causing widespread outages in the capital, San Juan, and its surrounding municipalities. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, also known as PREPA, said Thursday that only 18 percent of the island currently has power, down from 43. 2 percent earlier in the day.
Many were quick to point fingers at the two-person Whitefish Energy company, which had worked on the very line that broke down before its controversial $300 million contract was canceled, Buzzfeed reported. Whitefish was quick to deny any responsibility for Thursday’s failure.“None of the issues reported today with the outage have anything to do with the repairs Whitefish Energy performed,” spokesperson Brandon Smulyan said in a statement to the website.The outage is a major setback in what’s been a long and bumpy road toward restoring Puerto Rico’s power grid. More than 50 percent of the island hasn’t had power since Hurricane Maria hit nearly two months ago. The status.pr website, which tracks power generation on the island, still hasn’t been updated to reflect the change.Officials said the mechanical issue could have happened on any line and that PREPA was currently repairing the issue.