Argentina Receives Energy From Uruguay Amid Blackouts

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Argentina broke a new record for energy consumption Monday. (Photo: Télam)

Argentina broke a new record for energy consumption Monday. (Photo: Télam)

Yesterday Argentine officials requested Uruguay sell “all the available” thermal energy it had to Argentina to cope with record electricity consumption bought on by high temperatures.

According to data from Uruguay’s Electricity Market Management (ADME) up to 500 megawatts/hour where sold to its neighbour during the working day yesterday.

Speaking to the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador Ramon Mendez, national director of Energy Uruguay said, “This is not the first time that, as a result of a significant deficit in Argentina, Uruguay has sent very important volumes of energy in relation to their system.”

Yesterday countrywide energy consumption reached a record high of 23,334 MW at 3pm. The previous record of 22,552 MW was recorded on 22nd July this year.

Thousands of people in the city and province of Buenos Aires suffered outages in water and power yesterday, with problems continuing today. Users on Twitter have recorded blackouts in the neighbourhoods of: Palermo, Belgrano, Núñez, Characrita, Colegiales, Caballito, Once, Almagro, Villa Crespo, Villa Devoto, Villa Urquiza, Flores, Saavedra and Mataderos.

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich this morning asked for residents to ration their energy use and said “when the temperature rises above 32 degrees average” over a number of days, the electric system is strained.

“Energy demand is growing because more Argentines have gained access to employment” and therefore access to more durable goods, such as air conditioning, which causes higher consumption, said Capitanich.

The cabinet chief added that he had “no formal notice” of the purchase of energy from Uruguay.

He said the government had made significant investment in energy production and blamed energy distributors for the blackouts, saying they “must invest” to “ensure the provision” to consumers.

Yesterday, Planning Minister Julio de Vido said the country did not suffer from a lack of electricity production but poor infrastructure and increased consumption were to blame for blackouts that affected various parts of the city.

Temperatures in the City of Buenos Aires are predicted to reach 36 degrees on Tuesday and highs will remain above 30 for the rest of the week.

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2 Responses to “Argentina Receives Energy From Uruguay Amid Blackouts”

  1. Werner Almesberger says:

    Yesterday, I accused De Vido of speaking the truth, but considering the news about what seems to have been a fairly panicked request to Uruguay, that could have been a little premature:

    http://www.argentinaindependent.com/currentaffairs/record-energy-use-adds-fears-blackouts/comment-page-1/#comment-205053

    However, moving energy between countries per se isn’t something suspicious. It’s often used to “burn” excess production (e.g., at night, nuclear energy can be used by hydroelectric plants to pump water back into their reservoirs, for use during daytime peaks), and similar operative balancing is regularly done between countries.

    But then, what are the odds that the Argentine plants are really up to the task ? As far as I can tell, none of the main factors that have led to last year’s problems have changed. There has been some lackluster extended maintenance in the distribution networks but I doubt that will be enough to turn things around. I haven’t heard of any major progress on the production side.

    Blaming the companies overlooks that their hands are largely tied thanks to government restrictions and other mistakes. E.g., they’re forbidden from raising prices, the – long overdue yet delayed until the worst moment – impending elimination of subsidiaries presents a large medium-term risk, they’re under the threat of being expropriated if the government feels the plebs need to see blood, they’re unattractive for external investment, any equipment purchases they may be able to make can easily run afoul of customs or currency exchange restrictions, anything based on fossil fuels is risky because of the messed-up production situation in Argentina, and so on.

    I don’t know what those energy providers look like on the inside, but just considering the outside factors I can’t imagine how they could possibly function properly, let alone initiate a successful recovery.

    I think we have to consider that what we’re experiencing is not a mere turbulence but a controlled crash landing, with the pilots focusing on their own survival and willing to sacrifice their passengers.

    Maybe the Indy’s next “Top 5″ article could be on places where they sell nice portable generators ? Or maybe on beers that don’t taste too horribly even at 35 C ?

    – Werner

  2. Werner Almesberger says:

    My faith in De Vido is restored: according to [1] he said a mere ten days ago that “there will never be programmed service interruptions”.

    Yet here we are, with Capitanich openly musing about rolling blackouts [2].

    Not that this would be an overly surprising development. What is reassuring is that planned interuptions wouldn’t necessarily mean that we’d have to miss out on unplanned interruptions, because the rolling blackouts only ease the load on the plants and possibly the long-distance lines, but do little for the local distribution networks, which are the ones that caused the last (and apparently still on-going [3]) interruptions.

    In my previous comment, I mentioned that I had no insight into the inner economical workings of the power companies. Well, Moody’s seem to [4] and what they found is even worse than I imagined. I would have expected them, by “saving” on expensive maintenance let alone investment, to have a bit of extra money. But they apparently burned through this already.

    [1] http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1648870-julio-de-vido-hace-diez-dias-sobre-los-cortes-de-luz-programados-jamas-me-parece-una-locura

    [2] http://www.infobae.com/2013/12/18/1531671-el-gobierno-considera-que-los-cortes-luz-programados-podrian-ser-una-solucion

    [3] http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1648825-los-barrios-que-siguen-afectados-por-los-cortes-de-luz

    [4] https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-downgrades-Edenors-to-Caa3Caa3ar-Negative-outlook–PR_281332

    – Werner

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