Power outages in Buenos Aires continue today with almost 30,000 people still without electricity. High demand for electricity to power air conditioners due to the current heat wave has caused failures in the power system in the area.
Cooling in a city fountain
Being in the southern hemisphere, it is the peak of summer in Argentina. Temperatures have been over 90 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity. The National Meteorological Service expects temperatures to reach 97 degrees today. These temperatures are above the upper range of normal for this time or year. The National Meteorological Service has issued an orange alert for the area. An orange alert means people in the impacted area should be prepared to take action if the situation worsens.
Health Minister Juan Manzur encouraged people to “avoid as much as possible exposing themselves to sun rays and to drink a lot of water.” He also said suggested people who experience drowsiness, fainting, racing pulse, or high fever should seek medical attention. These symptoms could be serious or life-threatening.
Buenos Aires has been having difficulty meeting electricity demands this time of year ever since the government froze prices to consumers in 2002. The government also reduced subsidies to suppliers in 2011. With the lack of subsidies, the two major suppliers of electricity, Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora Norte (EDENOR) and Empresa Distribuidora de Energia Sur SA (EDESUR), have been unable to keep up with maintenance needs of the system. Demand increases each year as more households purchase air conditioning units which are used almost constantly when the temperatures rise.
Last year’s record-breaking heat wave caused more extensive outages. These outages lasted long enough to bring people to the streets in protest against the government. As a result, a variety of measures were put in place against EDENOR and EDESUR. These measures include hiring additional employees in the areas that are prone to blackouts. This year, Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren has encouraged the providers to keep their “maintenance teams ready to respond” and to restore power as quickly as possible. He also urged consumers to set their air conditioning units at 24 degrees Celsius.
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