June 17, 2024
Blackout in South America raises questions about power grid
Cars drive on the 9 de Julio Ave, near the Obelisk monument in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Monday morning, June 17, 2019. As lights turned back on across Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay after a massive blackout that hit tens of millions people, authorities were still largely in the dark about what caused the collapse of the interconnected grid and were tallying the damage from the unforeseen disaster.
Cars drive on the 9 de Julio Ave, near the Obelisk monument in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Monday morning, June 17, 2019. As lights turned back on across Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay after a massive blackout that hit tens of millions people, authorities were still largely in the dark about what caused the collapse of the interconnected grid and were tallying the damage from the unforeseen disaster.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The huge blackout that left tens of millions of people in the dark in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend raised serious questions about the vulnerability of the power grid in South America and brought criticism down on Argentina’s leader.

President Mauricio Macri promised a thorough investigation into the cause of what he called an unprecedented outage. Energy officials said the findings would not be available for 10 to 15 days, and they had no immediate estimate of the economic damage from Sunday’s 14-hour power failure.

“This is an extraordinary event that should have never happened,” said Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui. “It’s very serious. We can’t leave the whole country all of a sudden without electricity.”

He vowed: “There is zero chance that this will repeat itself. It can’t repeat itself.”

While the precise cause has yet to be established, the blackout originated at a transmission point between two power stations in the country’s northeast “when the system was getting too much power,” Lopetegui said. A chain of events then caused a total disruption, he said.

Lopetegui did not rule out the possibility of a cyberattack but said it was unlikely.

Argentine energy experts said that operational and design errors probably played a role and that the system should have isolated the local failure before it cascaded so disastrously.

“If the automatic system would have been working correctly, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now,” said Daniel Montamat, a former energy secretary.

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