On Sunday, South American countries mainly Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay faced a complete power outage, leaving millions of people without electricity. The cause of the massive blackout remains unknown although it has been highly anticipated that it was a result of an “unprecedented” failure in the countries’ power grid.
Argentina, which has the third-largest power market in Latin America, behind Brazil and Mexico, relies mostly on hydropower and natural gas to fuel its electricity sector. Recently, the country has been in a state of disrepair, with substations and cables that were upgraded despite their insufficiency.
The blackout started around 7 am local time on June 16, when an Argentine interconnection system collapsed. The day was relevant as the elections for choosing the governor was to take place in Argentina. Several Argentine voters, who were gathered for casting their votes, used their phone-flashlights. Other Argentine provinces used the same method to continue with the voting procedure although it led to delaying of voting in many areas.
The power outage remained until noontime, covering half of the Argentina’s population in the dark. It also affected areas in Uruguay and Paraguay. The officials from Uruguay’s energy department blamed the Argentine system for hours of blackout in its areas. Power in rural communities in the south of Paraguay, nearing the border with Argentina and Uruguay, was also cut for hours, though the service was restored by noon.
According to Edesur, which is an electricity distributing company in Argentine, the failure first originated at an electricity transmission point between the power stations at the country’s Yacyretá dam and Salto Grande in the country’s northeast. Moreover, the errors in the network heightened the collapsing of the power grid.
Not only did the power outage cause difficulty in carrying out with the elections, but also it halted the services of the public transport. Various shops were closed due to the power failure, which affected the market ratio, adding up to people’s misery. Doctors ordered to shift the admitted patients to the clinics and hospitals having inverter and generator facilities, aiming to provide better treatment.
Observing the power crisis throughout the country, Argentine President Mauricio Macri tweeted, “This is an unprecedented case that will be investigated thoroughly.”
The power authorities in Argentina made desperate efforts in restoring the loss. As a result, some three million populations in Uruguay, and neighboring people in Paraguay, along with 98 percent of the Argentina’s area received electricity by Sunday evening.
Many believe that the threats regarding such failures need mitigation post occurrence. The presence of advanced technology and studies would help to overcome the shortcomings.
The Argentine government has considered the power outage as one of the serious problems, promising proper investigations for the same. Could it be a part of a strategy for delaying or avoiding the elections on that day, is a fact that remains still unknown.