Puerto Rico is being hit by widespread outages as customers demand the ouster of a private electric company

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico was hit by a widespread power outage Wednesday evening, leaving more than 300,000 customers without electricity after two of the U.S. territory’s power plants closed.

The capital San Juan was without power, as were neighboring municipalities including Bayamón, Caguas and Carolina.

Luma Energy, which handles transmission and distribution for Puerto Rico’s energy authority, said on X that the outage was related to a problem with the power plants’ transmission lines. The company issued a statement to The Associated Press saying it was investigating the outage that coincided with the closure of units at GeneraPR, which operates and maintains state-owned power generation units.

The outage is the latest in a series of power outages to hit Puerto Rico, which is still trying to rebuild its grid after Hurricane Maria leveled it in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

The outage prompted the mayor of the capital of San Juan, Miguel Romero, to declare a state of emergency late on Wednesday, accusing Luma of sharing limited information about the ongoing power outages.

“There are thousands of children with specific nutritional needs, as well as older adults who often need therapy equipment to protect their health and often save their lives,” the decree said.

Dozens of Puerto Ricans took to social media to condemn the latest blackout and demand Luma’s ouster, noting it came amid warnings of extreme heat. Not everyone on the island of 3.2 million people with a poverty rate of more than 40% can afford generators or solar panels.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.