Argentina: the State files a complaint for repeated power cuts

Garbage cans on fire during a demonstration against the private electricity operator Edesur, in Buenos Aires, on March 15, 2023 (TELAM/AFP/Alfredo LUNA)

Argentina’s government on Thursday filed a complaint against a private electricity operator, controlled by Italian energy giant Enel, following repeated and prolonged blackouts that affected hundreds of thousands of homes in Buenos Aires this summer.

On instructions from the Ministry of Energy, the controller of the national electricity regulatory authority ENRE, Walter Martello, announced that he had filed a complaint against Edesur, which distributes electricity to half of the greater Buenos Aires area. Aires (nearly 14 million inhabitants).

The complaint was filed for “fraud”, “obstructing public services”, “abandonment of people”, said the controller. On Wednesday he had already denounced insufficient investment by private operators in the network, and sent a threat to Edesur on the sustainability of the concession, granted in 1992, and which in theory still runs for 64 years.

Argentine presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said the complaint against Edesur “is justified by what has happened in recent days”.

Regarding the concession, she indicated that the State “will carefully examine” an ENRE audit on possible points “which would justify the withdrawal of the concession from Edesur”. She questioned the modus operandi of privatizations of the 90s, “with concessions for almost 100 years”.

The communication from Enel-Argentina, joined by AFP, did not wish to react at first, saying that it had not been notified of the complaint.

Several neighborhoods in Buenos Aires have seen demonstrations this week by local residents against repeated power cuts, often lasting a few hours but sometimes lasting several days or even a week, which this summer affected hundreds of thousands of homes against a background of historic heat waves, and high demand on the network.

Some 37,000 homes remained without electricity Thursday at midday, against 113,000 Wednesday, an almost daily average – but in changing neighborhoods – for two weeks.

Buenos Aires is experiencing its hottest summer since records began (1906), with a final heat wave that lasted about ten days.

© 2023 AFP

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