After power cuts in Buenos Aires in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa announced Monday night a “temporary” takeover of the energy distribution company Edesur, controlled by Italy’s Enel. The Argentine government has asked the Argentine electricity regulator “to seize the company Edesur for 180 days to monitor compliance and, above all, toimprove the service that the company should have,” said Massa in a statement.
Power cuts in Buenos Aires
Last week, tens of thousands of homes in the capital Buenos Aires suffered repeated power outages, often lasting hours and sometimes days, amidst another summer heat wave and high demand on the grid. The Minister stressed that “since February 13, when 180,000 users were left without service, there has been a repeated interruption in the supply of medium and low voltage, which represents a clear and systematic failure” of service.
The controller of the national electricity regulatory authority files a complaint against Edesur
On the instructions of the Ministry of Energy, the controller of the national regulatory authority of electricity ENRE had filed a complaint last Thursday against the private operator for “fraud”, “obstruction of public services” and “abandonment of persons”. Buenos Aires is experiencing its hottest summer since records began (1906), with a last heat wave that lasted about ten days.
The company will also have to pay a fine of 2.7 billion pesos (12.3 million euros), which will be used to reimburse the bills of affected users, said the minister. The companies Edenor and Edesur share the supply of electricity to the north and south of the capital and its outskirts, where 15 million people live, or nearly a third of the Argentine population.
Government takes drastic measures to avoid further power cuts
The temporary takeover of Edesur by the Argentine government is a radical measure, but one that may be necessary to guarantee the supply of electricity in the Buenos Aires area. Prolonged power outages have a considerable impact on the daily lives of residents, especially during the hot weather. Mr. Massa’s decision is therefore understandable in this context.