Lights out also in Córdoba, Rosario
While power outages mostly occurred in Great Buenos Aires during the heat wave in the second half of December, other regions of the country weren’t spared the hassle of recent spates of darkness and water shortages.
In Rosario, a district of around 1.2 millon inhabitants, both retailers and private residences suffered from blackouts, said Nelson Graells, president of Retailers Association of Rosario, located on the retail district of Córdoba street. “There were some places in the centre of Rosario City where blackouts happened. Not only in retailers, but also in residential areas,” he told the Herald.
Graells added that Empresa Provincial de Energía (EPE), a company owned by the province, advised its costumers of when outages would occur: “EPE stated each morning how many hours it would shut down its service, but sometimes it encountered extra trouble. The heat wave surpassed all forecasts.” The retailer added that company spokesmen informed consumers it needed a “US$6- or 7-billion investment” in the next five years. “There have been more blackouts this year than before,” Graells concluded.
The Public Services Minister for Santa Fe province, Antonio Ciancio, did not agree: “The problems occurred because of the high temperatures and the extraordinary use of splits. There was no major trouble in the rest of the province. When 10,000 customers were affected by energy scarcity in Rosario, that was between 1.5 and 2 percent of the whole province. When our administration took over, five percent of customers suffered blackouts in the summer. Nowadays, it’s 2 percent.” In Santa Fe, the cost of each kilowatt of electricity is between 22 and 83 cents, while Edenor and Edesur sell the kilowatt at between 4 to 11 cents, according to information provided by the province’s Energy Secretariat.
Córdoba province, which has 3.3 million inhabitants, registered several days of blackouts, journalist Pablo Valdés from Día a Día newspaper, told the Herald: “Electricity loss began two weeks ago, the same time the heat wave began. EPEC (the province’s public energy company) multiplied their crews by five. There have been blackouts over several days.”
“ERSEP (the public office in Santa Fe in charge of controlling public services) stated that those costumers who suffered from 12-hour blackouts between December 23 and 26 will not have to pay their bills,” he added.
For her part, the state-owned company EPEC spokeswoman Mariana González also blamed the high temperatures. “From December 16 to 31, the heat wave provoked huge demand from the electricity system. Electricity reached the towns. We had groups of houses with trouble, but no multiple-day blackouts. The energy consumption record was broken twice in the last two weeks,” she explained.
Moreover, González stated that half of the 26 percent hike to electricity rates in the province would be channelled into investment in infrastructure, to avoid a repeat of the current energy crisis.