The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to help Puerto Rico rebuild its power grid, organize and maximize efficiencies in its utility operations, and prepare for future severe storms. The MOU allows for New York to continue its ongoing support efforts in partnership with PREPA, the government-owned corporation responsible for electricity generation, power transmission and power distribution in Puerto Rico. NYPA also issued the New York State Utility Contingent Emergency Response to Hurricane Maria After Action Report this week, a comprehensive review of the New York State utility contingent’s emergency response to Hurricane Maria. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo shared news of the MOU and NYPA’s continued support in Puerto Rico at a Hurricane Maria anniversary vigil yesterday in the Bronx.
“The New York utility contingent is proud to have been on the ground supporting Puerto Rico throughout its recovery from Hurricane Maria,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “We have learned many lessons from the experiences of the past year that will help guide Puerto Rico as it builds a stronger power system. We are honored to be able to continue to offer our expertise and lessons learned to our ‘family’ in Puerto Rico.”
“Having New York State’s support was a blessing during the response after the hurricane,” said José Ortiz Vázquez, PREPA CEO. “Now they will be part of our reconstruction of a modern, quick responding and resilient grid. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the New York State contingent, led by NYPA, for their passion and engagement to rebuild Puerto Rico.”
Going forward, at PREPA’s request and laid out in the MOU, NYPA will offer consultation on a wide-range of issues relating to the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s grid, focusing specifically on these areas:
Technical Assistance and Advocacy
NYPA will offer much-needed technical assistance to help stabilize Puerto Rico’s power grid and help advocate for the federal funds necessary to pursue the recommendations offered in the Build Back Better: Reimagining and Strengthening the Power Grid of Puerto Rico report submitted to Governor Cuomo in December 2017. Those recommendations are based on the report’s working group’s substantial experience with power system recovery, rebuilding and hardening from hurricanes encountered on the U.S. mainland over the last decade. The report especially recognized the need for Puerto Rico to address a series of issues as quickly as possible in order to upgrade its systems in preparation for future storms.
Reform Management and Operations
NYPA will also assist PREPA in rebuilding its grid and reforming management and operations using lessons learned from NYPA’s experience in helping the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) manage power and infrastructure needs after Superstorm Sandy in 2012—one of the most destructive and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. NYPA, in collaboration with LIPA, will share best practices from the LIPA Reform Act of July 2013.
Strengthen Emergency Preparedness
Guided by the After Action Report issued this week, NYPA will help PREPA strengthen its emergency preparedness and resiliency initiatives as it rethinks its response to significant events, facilitates resolution of existing core challenges in Puerto Rico, and pursues continuous improvement of its energy operations.
“Our women and men who worked for months restoring power to Puerto Rico are enormously proud of their work, and the comfort and security they helped bring to the island’s residents,” said John McAvoy, chairman and CEO of Con Edison. “New Yorkers and the people of Puerto Rico share a bond that is now stronger than ever.”
“Better customer service, reduced outages, and faster storm response are measurable improvements after the LIPA Reform Act restructured Long Island's utility in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,” said Tom Falcone, LIPA CEO. “We are proud to support PREPA in sharing what we’ve learned.”
The After Action Report focuses on the efforts of the New York State utility contingent. It was compiled by a working group made up of representatives from the contingent, industry experts and other stakeholders, including representatives from NYPA, New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, PREPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy, Con Edison, LIPA, PSEG-Long Island, National Grid, Central Hudson, AVANGRID, Edison Electric Institute, the American Public Power Association and Navigant. The report identifies and prioritizes a set of recommendations to improve future New York State contingent response efforts. The key recommendations are to:
- Enhance partnership arrangements between the New York State utility contingent, PREPA and other stakeholders
- Prepare and train for significant events
- Facilitate the resolution of existing, core challenges in Puerto Rico
- Focus on continuous improvement.
These activities, outlined in the MOU between NYPA and PREPA and in the After Action Report, will build on the considerable efforts of New York State to re-electrify Puerto Rico. Between the months of November 2017 and April 2018, more than 450 New York State utility personnel, led by NYPA, went to Puerto Rico to help restore power in response to a request by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossellό for mutual aid resources.
The New York State utility crews, under NYPA’s leadership, consisted primarily of transmission and distribution experts, damage assessors and general support staff, who undertook repairs to transmission lines and other electric infrastructure work focusing its initial power restoration efforts in San Juan. They brought with them hundreds of bucket trucks, diggers, excavators and other specialized equipment to complete the necessary repairs to damaged transmission and distribution lines and worked 16-hour days, seven days-a-week to help restore power.
The NYS utility workers then joined with utility workers from around the country—led by the Edison Electric Institute, the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association—to help restore power to other areas of the island.