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Montevideo, September 29th 2023 - 04:48 UTC



Power cut hits nearly 40% of Argentine households

Thursday, March 2nd 2023 - 08:09 UTC
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Shortages of electricity and a strong heat wave stir memories of 1988/89 when inflation kept then-President Alfonsín from completing his term Shortages of electricity and a strong heat wave stir memories of 1988/89 when inflation kept then-President Alfonsín from completing his term

About 40% of Argentine households were reported to have been left powerless Wednesday afternoon amid unprecedented heat following “several failures in the interconnected system” stemming from a fire that “disturbed a 500 kw high voltage line that connects Campana with General Rodríguez” in the province of Buenos Aires, according to local media.

The effects of the outage were felt in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA), Córdoba, Santa Fe, La Rioja, Tucumán, La Pampa, Río Negro, Neuquén, Mendoza and San Juan. Service was restored gradually starting at around 7 pm.

The company Transener SA informed that “at 3:59 p.m., 3 High Voltage Lines that link the Transformer Stations of General Rodríguez and with the Litoral area went out of service as a consequence of a field fire”.

“Under high demand conditions, the disturbance generated oscillations in the System, generating additional link openings to the previous ones with the consequent restriction in the demand,” the company added in a statement.

Together with Compañía Administradora del Mercado Mayorista Eléctrico S.A. (CAMMESA), a contingency plan was set in motion “according to the established procedures,” the document went on. CAMMESA, the Argentine company in charge of operating the country's wholesale electricity market, announced that power supply was “recovering strongly in Greater Buenos Aires” while “Cordoba was partially restored and we are moving up northwest.”

A failure at the Atucha powerplant was due to the fact that the protection system was activated and unhooked the three 500 kilowatt transmission lines due to a fire underneath the lines 8 kilometers from General Rodríguez in the province of Buenos Aires, it was explained.

The blackout lasted about three hours on average, while Atucha is expected to be operational within 40 hours.

“The Secretariat of Energy informs that in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 1, a fire generated disturbances in the 500 kW High Voltage Line that connects the towns of Campana and General Rodríguez. In view of the unbalance, the system immediately responded by disconnecting the generation for its own protection,” the authorities said.

“The Atucha I nuclear power plant did not have any problem, it is only shut down for safety reasons until the system is reconnected and it can deliver the energy it generates again. Since it is not able to inject its generation for external reasons, the safety protocol indicates that the plant be shut down,” the communiqué went on.

In this scenario, Economy Minister Sergio Massa suspects foul play: the fires triggering the emergency protocols were intentional, according to the Minister, who filed a complaint before the Judiciary so that the actual causes of the blackout are fully investigated. The case is handled by Campana Federal Judge Adrián González Charvay, whom Massa asked to take all the necessary measures to prosecute and arrest those responsible as per Article 186 of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, the territory now known as The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (CABA) recorded an average temperature of 25.6 º C, which beat the historical record from 1906 to 2023 the National Meteorological Service (SMN) said. These figures beat the average 25.3 º C recorded in the summer of 1988/1989, which is remembered for its constant power cuts ahead of the presidential elections with Raúl Alfonsín unable to finish his term amid rampant inflation.

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