Some 349,000 still without power in Puerto Rico after Fiona

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FILE PHOTO: Hurrican Fiona landfalls in Puerto Rico

NEW YORK (Reuters) -An estimated 349,000 homes and businesses were still without power in Puerto Rico on Wednesday after Hurricane Fiona hit on Sept. 18, causing an island-wide power outage for its 3.3 million people.

PowerOutage.us, which estimates outages based on utility data, said 349,000 customers were without service on Wednesday based on information from LUMA Energy, which operates Puerto Rico’s grid.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico about five years after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island.

There were about 503,000 customers without power on Tuesday out of 1.468 million total customers.

That pace of restoration is much faster than after Maria – when almost all 1.5 million customers had no power for a week. At that time the now bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) was still operating the grid.

LUMA Energy said it restored service to 1.141 million customers by early Wednesday and expects to have 77%-91% of customers restored by Friday if there is sufficient generation available from PREPA and other private generators.

Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi on Tuesday asked the White House for a waiver to the 1920 Jones Act, which requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by American owned-and-operated ships.

Pierluisi said this was necessary to increase the availability of fuel in the wake of the storm.

A tanker called GH Parks carrying diesel is currently near Puerto Rico’s southern coast after sailing from the United States, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. The vessel appears to be impeded from discharging due to the Jones Act.

Marshall Island-flagged oil tanker GH Parks, carrying fuel, has since Sunday been waiting near Puerto Rico’s Guayanilla port after sailing from the U.S. port of Texas City, according to vessel monitoring data.

The ship might be impeded from discharging due to the Jones Act.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Jones Act waivers, said in a statement that it continued to review such request “a case-by-case basis.”

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; additional reporting by Ivelisse Rivera in San Juan and Timothy Gardener in Washington Editing by Angus MacSwan, Louise Heavens and Diane Craft)

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