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Power cut plunges Argentina and Uruguay into darkness

  • 5 months ago (2019-06-17)
  • David Flin
Latin America 29 Transmission 76

Authorities are trying to restore power after a large electrical failure plunged much of South America into darkness, with millions still affected. A massive blackout left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay on 16 June after a failure in the Argentine power grid.

Authorities are working to restore power, but 12 hours after the start of the blackout, over a quarter of Argentina’s 44 million people were still without power.

Argentina’s power grid has long been in a state of disrepair, with substations and cables that haven’t been upgraded for years to keep power rates down for consumers. The Argentine energy company Edesur said that the failure originated at an electricity transmission point between the power station at the country’s Yacyreta dam and Salto Grande in the north-east of Argentina. No reason for the failure has yet been determined.

Raul Bertero, President of the Centre for the Study of Energy Regulatory Activity in Argentina said that systemic operational and design errors played a role in the grid collapse. He said: “A localised failure like the one that occurred should be isolated by the same system. The problem is known and technology and studies exist to avoid it.”

After 12 hours, power had been restored to most of Uruguay. In Argentina, around 72 per cent of the national grid had been restored.

In Paraguay, power to rural communities in the south, near the border with Argentina, were cut. Paraguay’s National Energy Administration restored service by redirecting power from the Itaipu hydroelectric plant the country shares with Brazil.