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Most media outlets claim 70 percent of Puerto Rico is without power — but that statistic is flawed

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Reports have flooded the news claiming that 70 percent of the island of Puerto Rico is still without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall nearly two months ago. However, that number isn’t entirely accurate.

According to Frances Robles, a New York Times criminal justice reporter, it isn’t that 70 percent is without power, it’s that the power company is only able to produce 30 percent of its power. That power isn’t going to residents of the island, the priority is for the most essential services. The reality is Puerto Rican residents are still without power and ower stats are a percent of the load.

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“The [Puerto Rican] government recently acknowledged that when it reports the percentage of power restored, it wasn’t talking about customers,” Robles wrote in a Thursday twitter explanation. “The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, now admits that it was talking about percent of power BEING GENERATED [sic].”

All of that power is being restored for hospitals, first responders and the water pumps first to try and drain the floodwaters from the island and ensure there are resources to help the sick or injured. “Prioritizing critical infrastructure (eg, hospitals) means fewer PEOPLE have power than the stats suggest,” Robles tweeted.

“So if you ask around in Puerto Rico, hardly ANYBODY at all has power, unless you live next door to a hospital or the governor’s mansion,” Robles explained. “One of my cousins has power – but not enough for AC – because she’s right next to the airport, but the huge hotel across the street doesn’t.”

She referred to a LatinoUSA NPR report that may be the only one to have captured the fact that the government “quietly changed its status” on Oct. 26, so that it would say “generation.”

In an email to Latino USA, secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy Ramón Rosario “addressed how the status.pr numbers are being reported, but did not address why the labels changed.”

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“From the beginning, we have provided the number of consumption of generation,” Rosario said. “The supply operation for PREPA has changed since the hurricane, using different feeders to reach critical customers such as hospitals and water pumping stations. In this sense, with the current PREPA measurement systems, it would be imprecise to provide a specific number of clients served, but we are working to be able to add that information once it is accurate. However, the number of consumption measures the percentage we are delivering to our customers compared to what was supplied before Hurricane Maria.”

Robles reported that the entire power grid “is so wrecked” that the government still isn’t sure how many people do have power. She explained that the reason power was prioritized was get hospitals and pumps back up.

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I saw Michael Atkinson up close. He followed the law with the utmost integrity. He did nothing to lose Trump’s confidence other than lawfully and properly expose Trump’s misconduct and the ensuing efforts to cover it up. This is pure retaliation, retribution and reprisal. https://t.co/GStcTOJn4J

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This article first appeared in Salon.

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