July 24, 2018

DeFazio, Titus Urge FEMA Not to Shut Down Emergency Power Generators In Puerto Rico This Summer

July 24, 2018

The Honorable William B. "Brock" Long


Federal Emergency Management Agency

500 C St. S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20024-2523


Dear Administrator Long:


We write to request that you extend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) mission assignment for emergency power restoration in Puerto Rico. We are especially concerned about the need for the lease, operation, and maintenance of three mega-generators in Puerto Rico.

In response to a June 13, 2018, letter from Ranking Member DeFazio, you stated on July 17, 2018,[1] that the mega-generator at the Yabucoa Station would be demobilized as of July 18, 2018, and that the two mega-generators at the Palo Seco Power Plant would be demobilized on August 18, 2018. At the same time, however, you indicated that the Governor of Puerto Rico would be requesting that the lease for the mega-generators continue. Further, during the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Emergency Management, and Public Buildings hearing on July 18, the USACE informed the Subcommittee that it was working with FEMA to extend the mission assignment for emergency power restoration related to the mega-generators.

Almost a year after Hurricane Maria made landfall, nearly 2,000 customers are still without power.[2] As you know, hurricane season began June 1 and already two hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Even though Hurricane Beryl was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it pummeled the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with strong winds and rain, the storm caused over 40,000[3] homes and businesses to lose power temporarily in Puerto Rico, highlighting the fragile state of the grid. Between the USACE’s actions, the Governor’s request, the lack of full power restoration, and the continued temporary power outages occurring in Puerto Rico, it is clear that the mega-generators are vital to Puerto Rico’s continued recovery from the 2017 disasters as well as to its preparedness for the 2018 hurricane season.

If you decline to extend the USACE mission assignment for emergency power restoration, please provide to the Committee a written justification establishing that extension of the mission assignment is not necessary. In addition, please provide a cost-benefit analysis to justify de-mobilizing the mega-generators. The cost-benefit analysis should discuss the cost to de-mobilize the mega-generators as well as the anticipated costs to transport and reactivate the generators in the event they are needed again during the current hurricane season.

If you have questions about this request, please contact Janet Erickson with the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at (202) 225-9961.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


            PETER DeFAZIO                                         DINA TITUS

            Ranking Member                                             Ranking Member

                                                                                    Subcommittee on Economic Development,

                                                                                      Public Buildings, and Emergency



[1] Letter from Administrator Long to Ranking Member DeFazio, dated July 17, 2018.

[2] Letter from Administrator Long to Ranking Member DeFazio, dated July 17, 2018.

[3] Danica Coto, “Power outages, flooding hits Puerto Rico, USVI amid storms,” The Associated Press (July 8, 2018).