BUENOS AIRES – With the drop in temperatures, the Argentine capital began to leave behind the country’s worst heat wave in 107 years and to normalize its electricity service after an energy crisis marked by blackouts and mutual recriminations between the government and the utility companies.
Hardest hit was Argentina’s north, where the thermometer reached 50 C (122 F) and eight deaths were blamed on the heat wave.
The National Weather Service predicted a maximum temperature of 33 C (91 F) for Wednesday in Greater Buenos Aires and 28 C (82 F) for Thursday.
With the easing of the heat wave, energy consumption also declined and utilities companies were able to resolve a large portion of the supply problems that had cropped up in recent weeks affecting some 800,000 people.
By Tuesday night, electric service had been restored “to 98 percent of the users” who were affected by power outages in the Buenos Aires metro area, the Security Ministry said.
The falloff in energy consumption also has been helped by the exodus of capital residents to seaside and summer vacation areas.
More than 1,000 automobiles per hour on Wednesday morning were traversing the highway linking the Argentine capital with the country’s main coastal tourist destinations, the National Highway Safety Agency reported.
The governor of Buenos Aires province, Daniel Scioli, once again blamed the power companies for the energy crisis.
Scioli demanded that the utilities firms accept their responsibility in the matter, adding that a “thorough evaluation” will be performed with an eye toward “readjusting the electric system.”
Opposition leaders, such as the rightist mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, pointed to the lack of investment by the utilities companies and, in particular, to mistakes in state planning for the assorted problems.
The power cuts have resulted in millions of dollars in losses during the Christmas holiday season to businesses in Greater Buenos Aires, where some 15 million people live.