BUENOS AIRES – There is no chance that a massive blackout like the one that occurred over the weekend, affecting most of Argentina and Uruguay, will happen again, Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui said on Monday.
On a scale “of zero to 10, there is a zero possibility of this being repeated,” Lopetegui told Radio La Red.
The power outage started around 7:00 am Sunday due to “a massive failure in the electric interconnection system,” electric utility Edesur said.
The outage left all of Argentina, with the exception of the southern region of Tierra del Fuego, as well as Uruguay and parts of Paraguay without electricity.
Power was restored to 100 percent of utility customers in Argentina at 9:35 pm on Sunday, but some 100,000 customers were still without power in Uruguay early Monday.
Uruguayan state-owned electric utility UTE said in the past few hours that it had restored service to nearly all customers.
UTE said in a Twitter post that “approximately 3,000 customers” in different parts of Montevideo, the country’s capital, were still without power.
Lopetegui said on Sunday that the outage was caused by a failure in a transmission line in northwestern Argentina between the Yacyreta Hydroelectric Complex, which is managed by Argentina and Paraguay, and the Salto Grande hydroelectric facility, which is run by Argentina and Uruguay.
On Sunday, the Paraguayan National Electricity Administration (ANDE) said in a statement that the outage in Argentina and Uruguay caused “the blockage of seven generating units at the Yacyreta Hydroelectric Complex.”
The outage affected some cities in southern Paraguay, ANDE said.
“We can’t come up with any theory about what happened because we don’t have the necessary information,” Lopetegui said Monday in response to a question about the investigation of the outage expected to take place in coming weeks.
The Wholesale Electricity Market Management Company (Cammesa) “is going to conduct the study and in 15 days” the public will know what caused the outage, the energy secretary said.
“These electric black boxes have thousands of bits of data on every transaction they do and the companies have to turn over the information within 72 hours,” Lopetegui said.
The energy secretary stuck to the position he laid out on Sunday, noting that the outage was a “very serious thing that should not have happened.”
The outage occurred “at a time when the system was receiving a lot of energy,” Lopetegui said.
The energy secretary defended President Mauricio Macri’s administration, saying that “the investments that have been made over the past three years were large and very extensive.”
Officials in Buenos Aires, which is home to about 13 million people, had to suspend train and Metro service due to the blackout, but the capital’s main airports were able to continue operating using generators.
The situation would have been worse if the blackout had occurred on a weekday, but it did wreck Father’s Day celebrations for many people.