After hurricane George hit Puerto Rico, FEMA offered half the cost, a $100M grant to the island to build an underground transmission cranking path for emergencies like the one currently caused by hurricane María. One of the conditions for this investment was for PREPA to pair the funds to finish the project.
This underground 115KV line was built and is going to be the key for a near-miraculous system restoration in the metro area. It connects the Bayamón transmission center with the Palo Seco and San Juan plants to other critical load centers.
New problems are created with the blackout, people with portable generators need to fuel them and there is not enough – in my view – installed capacity to supply all the gasoline needed to keep those portable generators running. Sadly, accidents are bound to happen mishandling the fuel. Diesel generators owners will feel the same pressure. The cost for this energy is around double the current PREPA rates and this will press all these owners as well.
No power equals no water and the slew of problems this creates. Communications are also dependent on reliable power and this by itself makes all of the other efforts harder.
It is clear the return to normality depends mostly on the restoration of the electric grid, it should be given the highest priority.