Electricity generation in Puerto Rico reverted to levels seen before Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island in 2017, the U.S.' Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced in a statement.
After Hurricane Irma devastated the Atlantic shores in the summer of 2017, Puerto Rico's net electricity generation dropped from 1.57 million megawatt-hours (mWh) in August 2017 to 0.27 million MWh in October 2017, the EIA said. Furthermore, Puerto Rico's net electricity generation from November 2017 through August 2018 remained lower than levels recorded in 2016.
"When Hurricane Irma passed near Puerto Rico in early September 2017, about two-thirds of the island's 1.5 million electric utility customers lost power," the statement said on Monday.
Later the same month, on Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, causing damage to the transmission and distribution networks and virtually wiped out electricity output for almost all customers.
"According to the U.S. Department of Energy situation reports, about 96% of customers had their power restored as of April 2018, but net electricity generation remained relatively low for several more months," the statement read.
During the four months after the two hurricanes hit, from October 2017 through January 2018, petroleum- and natural gas-fired generation in Puerto Rico continued at lower than pre-hurricane levels, while generation from coal and renewable energy was entirely offline, the EIA said.
"In each of those four months, petroleum was the most prevalent fuel used for electricity generation, ranging from 55% to 78% of the total, and natural gas powered the remaining electricity generation," the statement said.
"Generation from coal and renewables both began to supply electricity to the grid in February 2018, but both remained slightly lower than their pre-hurricane levels for the rest of 2018," it added.
From February to December 2018, natural gas was the largest source for electricity generation in eight of those 11 months, the EIA said, noting all of Puerto Rico's natural gas during that time was imported from Trinidad in the form of LNG.
There was a plan to expand LNG capacity in Puerto Rico before the two hurricanes, but this was postponed and finally began its service in May 2018. The recent capacity addition allowed Puerto Rico to import 50% more gas last year than it could in 2017, according to the EIA.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma caused damage in the region of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively. While Maria now ranks as the third costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the U.S., Irma is the fifth costliest, according to the U.S.' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
By Ovunc Kutlu