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De Vido accuses Edesur of extortion

Minister of Planning Julio De Vido and Economy Minister Axcel Kicillof (R). (TÉLAM)
Energy company complains of frozen rates, vows to restore service by Monday

The government and energy company Edesur locked horns yet again yesterday as a more temperate climate did not cool tempers across the City. As blackouts continued to spread, Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido slammed the power distributor that had earlier said it was unable to provide an adequate electricity service due to the way the government has kept rates largely frozen for more than a decade.

“This is an expression of extortion,” De Vido said in response to Edesur, adding that “if it cannot provide services then the path is the one signalled by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich.”

De Vido thus referred to Capitanich’s warning of nationalization of the electricity distribution sector if Edesur and Edenor fail to improve performance.

The minister considered the distributor’s statement unacceptable “during times of such high demand due to the heat wave of the last 10 days now, and which is affecting large parts of our country, where there are still clients who have not recovered service.”

Throughout the week, the government, the energy companies and various sectors including unions and experts have differed in the debate over whether Argentina’s recurrent summer electricity woes are more the result of distribution or generation capacity deficiencies. Further controversy arose on Tuesday when it was reported that electricity had been imported from Uruguay to fill a void in generation. But the government swiftly protested that this was part of a regular agreement with the neighbouring country.

With many neighbourhoods still affected by the power outages that have suffocated the Buenos Aires area for the last week due to an intense heat wave, Edesur and Edenor sought to assure clients that services will have been fully restored by the weekend.

This came as little comfort to those who have been in the dark for days, with water supply often affected as well.

“Instead of issuing statements, what the company must do is improve its service and costs,” De Vido said, adding that “relating quality of service to rates is an inadmissible argument laced with extortion, which the government will not accept.”

Argentine Energy Institute vice-president Gerardo Rabinovich sided with the energy companies earlier in the week, telling the Herald that rising costs due to inflation cannot be met because rates are largely frozen.

Investment

Despite the complaint, the company also sought to assure it is investing and adjusting.

Edesur stated that it will reinforce its “works schedule for 2013-2015 in order to improve the quality of service and adequately satisfy the accelerated growth in demand.”

“In the last few days, a phenomenon of climate has been experienced, which repeatedly beat the demand record, which in turn brought about problems in the supply of electricity,” the company said.

Furthermore, Edesur said it is “working intensely to resolve irregularities and continue works that it has been undertaking as part of its 2013-2015 investment plan.”

“With this strategic plan, and in record speed, the company will undertake an enormous task of equipment renovation, replacement of networks and the installation of six sub-stations to distribute energy to its clients.”

Herald with DyN, Télam

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