Puerto Rican Power Outage Following Substation Explosion

The problem-plagued Puerto Rican power grid is hit on same day as cyberattack targets the island’s newly-installed electricity company.

Large parts of the Caribbean island were left without electricity following a fire at the Monacillos power distribution substation in the capital San Juan on Thursday 10 June.

It’s believed a transformer exploded, resulting in a widespread blackout.

Up to 800,000 customers were without power at the height of the outage. While at least 400,000 – 1-in-10 residents – were still without electricity late into the evening.

“The priority must be to re-establish the electrical service as soon as possible and our people can rest assured that we are making sure this is the case.

“At the same time, as soon as we have the results of the investigations related to the cause of this incident, whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the people of Puerto Rico.”

– Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi

Firefighters were immediately on the scene. Thankfully there were no reported injuries.

A Day Of Drama

Earlier in the day, Luma Energy’s website was hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This is a cyberattack where websites are deliberately targeted with masses of traffic to overwhelm it.

In a statement, Luma Energy claimed the incident involved two million website visits per second. “As a result, many clients may have had difficulty accessing the information related to their accounts,” it continued.

So far, there’s no evidence to link the cyberattack and the fire.

Luma Energy only took over responsibility for the island’s ailing transmission and distribution system from the state-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority on 1 June.

But the Canadian consortium has already been on the end of strong criticism.  

Even before the substation explosion, more than a million customers have lost power this month alone.

Puerto Rican Power Problems

Puerto Rico has a history of power problems. Indeed, following a category five hurricane back in September 2017, nearly half of the island’s population were still without electricity three months later.

While in January 2020, the largest earthquake to hit the island in more than a century damaged several of its power plants.

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