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Committee Leaders Urge FEMA to Extend Army Corps’ Puerto Rico Mission Until All Electric Customers Restored

Members concerned electric grid too fragile for Army Corps departure as power failures continue
Apr 18, 2018
Correspondence

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the top Democrats of four House Committees sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long requesting an extension of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) mission to restore power in Puerto Rico, which is currently scheduled to expire on May 18, 2018.  The letter comes as news reports indicate an island-wide power outage hit Puerto Rico earlier today.

The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Natural Resources Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ).

“We believe that USACE must continue its vital work to restore electrical service on the island until power is fully restored and the plan for transition to full control and operation of the grid by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is completed and implemented,” the four Committee leaders wrote.  “An extension of the Mission Assignment is necessary to allow additional time for capacity-building to ensure that a transition strategy can be effectively developed and implemented prior to the departure of federal contractors.”

More than 6 months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall, 49,000 people on Puerto Rico remain without power while ongoing blackouts continue to plague the recovering island’s fragile electric grid. Last week, nearly 900,000 – more than half of all power customers in Puerto Rico – were left without power after a single tree fell onto a primary power line leaving the main hospital and the international airport dependent upon generator power.

Link to Letter

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Media contacts:
Pallone: CJ Young (202) 225-5735
DeFazio: Bayley Sandy (202) 225-4472
Thompson: Adam Comis (202) 225-9978
Grijalva: Adam Sarvana (202) 225-6065