SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A majority of federal control board members approved new austerity measures for Puerto Rico on Thursday, saying they would help revitalize the economy and create more jobs amid the USA territory's 11-year recession, while the island's governor fired off a flurry of tweets promising to defy them.
PREPA's interim director, Justo González, said Wednesday that Cobra Energy, a US private contractor, hit the transmission line with a crane, causing multiple power plants to shut down in quick succession.
Cars line up at gas stations across Puerto Rico to fill up their tanks after an islandwide blackout leaves the entire island without electricity, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, April 18, 2018.
The power outage comes two days after PREPA published an online video celebrating the restoration of electric service to 97 percent of their customers.
"No one should believe these reforms are being implemented without clear and direct benefit to the people of Puerto Rico", said Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the board that was set up by Congress.
The utility said its priority was to bring back service to hospitals, San Juan's airport, water pumping systems and financial institutions.
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Mammoth Energy, the parent company of Cobra, said in a statement to ABC News "Cobra is dedicated to the hard work that lies ahead and continues to work around-the-clock with PREPA and the citizens of Puerto Rico to fix the entire infrastructure system to prevent outages such as this one from affecting the entire population on the island".
The same subcontractor was also blamed for an outage last week to 870,000 customers triggered by a tree falling on a power line, according to Justo Gonzalez, deputy director of PREPA.
In February, Rossello told ABC News that he felt a lack of urgency from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in helping to restore power.
This incident was marked as the "second-largest blackout", CNN reports. Just a month before Hurricane Maria struck a year ago, the board sued Rossello for refusing to implement proposed furloughs and pension cuts. The island's legislature held public hearings this week. "It has caused 3.4 billion lost customer-hours in Puerto Rico - more than in the rest of the USA over the past five years".
In recent months, the island has experienced a series of small, regional blackouts as well as wide-ranging outages, such as one last week that left almost 1 million people without power.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a frequent critic of recovery efforts since the hurricane, tweeted Wednesday: "The entire electrical system in Puerto Rico collapses AGAIN!"