- All of the island's electricity knocked out by Hurricane Maria
- Widespread damage to infrastructure
- Need for rapid solution to provide generating capacity and stabilize fragile grid
On September 20, 2017, Puerto Rico took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, a massive storm with sustained winds of 155 mph when it made landfall. By the time Maria spun away from Puerto Rico, the entire island was thrown into darkness, with its aging distribution, transmission and generation infrastructure left devastated. Experts predicted that it could be six months before power would be fully restored. Recognizing the likelihood for severe damage even before the hurricane made landfall, APR Energy contacted federal and Puerto Rican authorities in mid-September to make them aware of the company’s readiness if emergency power was required. APR Energy also took the initiative to stage some of its newest-generation GE TM2500 mobile gas turbines in the region, in the event they would be needed.
Weeks after Hurricane Maria, more than 90% of Puerto Rico residents still lacked electricity – and with it, access to food and medical storage, communication devices and other essential services. On October 12, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its federal contractor Weston Solutions hired APR Energy to rapidly install and operate two mobile turbines at the Palo Seco power plant near San Juan. Mobile turbine technology was favored over smaller diesel reciprocating engines for its high power density, significantly lower emissions and ability to stabilize the grid – reducing risk of blackouts. In addition, the fuel-flexible turbines could switch from diesel to cleaner, lower-cost natural gas once fuel supplies are available. On October 13, the company’s cargo shipment docked at the port of San Juan, and the turbines were quickly unloaded and transported to the Palo Seco power plant. Just 17 days after contract signature, both units became fully operational, completing one of the fastest installations ever for a mobile gas turbine. APR Energy’s 60MW plant is now helping to stabilize the power grid and restore critically needed electricity to thousands of homes, hospitals, schools and businesses – a vital step in the long process of the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.