After six days of rolling blackouts, power companies have defended themselves in response to Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich’s threat to nationalise them if outages continued.
A spokesperson for energy company Edesur Alejandra Martínez today blamed the national government for discomfort caused by the blackouts, which have affected thousands in recent days, indicating that the current tariff and subsidy policy prevents serious improvement in delivery of electricity.
“The actual rate [charged for power] in Capital Federal and Greater Buenos Aires is the lowest in Latin America, showing there is a difficulty. It is very difficult to be able to provide a quality service and maintain it,” Martínez told Radio 10 this morning.
Martínez confirmed that the subsidies provided by the government to keep the price of utilities low, do not go to the distributors and said Edesur had invested $900m this year in capital.
After meetings with executives from power companies Edesur and Edenor – responsible for providing power to Buenos Aires City and Province – at the Casa Rosada yesterday, Capitanich threatened to nationalise the companies.
“If you are not able to provide the service, then the Government is willing to do so directly and immediately… There are no excuses,” Capitanich said.
Capitanich told the press he anticipated fines would apply for breach of concession contract.
The head of the power workers union, Rafael Mancuso, said he supports nationalisation.
“As a union and philosophically we always think public services should be controlled by the state. If the government decides to nationalise, we will accompany them,” Mancuso told Radio La Red today.
He said there needed to be greater investment and more staff to improve the service and to “sit down to seriously discuss the issue” once the immediate problems have been resolved.
Last night a spokesperson from Edesur said “almost 99% of customers have electricity” and promised by the weekend there would be no costumers without electricity.