Electricity restored to 75 percent of customers in Puerto Rico, according to Utility

http://abcnews.go.com/US/electricity-restored-75-percent-customers-puerto-rico-utility/story?id=53005459

Electricity restored to 75 percent of customers in Puerto Rico: Utility

PHOTO: Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing hard hat, directs locals who are municipal workers, as they install a power pole in an effort to return electricity to a home, in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.Carlos Giusti/AP
Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing hard hat, directs locals who are municipal workers, Eliezer Nazario, holding rope, Tomas Martinez, right, and Angel Diaz, left, as they install a power pole in an effort to return electricity to Felipe Rodriguez’s home, four months after Hurricane Maria in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.more +

Nearly six months after Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, the island’s electricity has been restored to 75 percent capacity, according to its utility company.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said Sunday that 75.35 percent of customers now have electricity. It added that 90.8 percent of the electrical grid, already anemic even before the Sept. 20 storm barrelled through the island, is generating power again.

Thousands of power restoration personnel made up of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), industry workers from the mainland, and the Army Corps of Engineers have made marked progress in recent weeks.

PHOTO: Retired carpenter Felipe Rodriguez, far right, uses his pickup truck to help municipal workers, who are also locals, move an electric post so they can install it near a home, in the El Ortiz sector of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.Carlos Giusti/AP
Retired carpenter Felipe Rodriguez, far right, uses his pickup truck to help municipal workers, who are also locals, move an electric post so they can install it near a home, in the El Ortiz sector of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.more +

Despite this, 65 people in shelters and an island-wide boil water advisory is still in effect even though almost 100 percent of Puerto Ricans have access to drinking water, local government records show.

PHOTO: Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing a hard hat at left, works with locals who are municipal workers, as they install a new post to return electricity to a home in the El Ortiz sector of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.Carlos Giusti/AP
Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing a hard hat at left, works with locals who are municipal workers, as they install a new post to return electricity to a home in the El Ortiz sector of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.more +

The issue of power became controversial after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello recently announced plans to privatize PREPA after it chose to allocate a $300 million power restoration contract to Whitefish, a Montana-based company with only a few staffers, rather than put it through the mutual-aid network of public utilities usually called upon to coordinate power restoration after major disasters.

PHOTO: Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing hard hat, directs locals who are municipal workers, as they install a power pole in an effort to return electricity to a home, in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.Carlos Giusti/AP
Public Works Sub-Director Ramon Mendez, wearing hard hat, directs locals who are municipal workers, as they install a power pole in an effort to return electricity to a home, in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 31, 2018.more +

That contract was nixed and Whitefish stopped working in Puerto Rico after FEMA raised “significant concerns” over the procurement process.

ABC News’ Josh Hoyos contributed to this report

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