August 15, 2018 10:34 AM

For the first time since September 20, 2017, power has been fully restored to Puerto Rico, ending the longest continuous blackout in U.S. history.

Officials at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) say the last neighborhood affected by Hurricane Maria saw service restored Tuesday.

Residents in that area, the southern city of Ponce, have been relying on candles and generators for nearly a year as officials have struggled with massive power outages across the territory. Ponce was especially hard to reconnect to the grid because of landslides and rough terrain.

To guard against future outages, crews replaced wooden power poles with steel ones, which can better stand up to hurricane force winds.

PREPA could use a PR boost, as the utility has been under fire lately for service issues and high costs. Earlier this year, Puerto Rico’s governor announced plans to sell off the power utility to the private sector.

Maria knocked out power to the entire island and left all 3.4 million residents in the dark when it hit nearly one year ago. The storm also killed more than 1,400 people.

Although the restoration of power to Ponce completes the storm-related tasks of PREPA, there are still some homes that lack power because repairs need to be done to individual homes, say officials. Crews will continue to upgrade the system in hopes of faring better the next time a storm blows across the island.

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