Electric blackouts are probably over as rains replenish rivers and reservoirs

Jan 13, 2024 | 0 comments

The Ministry of Energy announced Friday that electric service blackouts are suspended until March 1 but the Energy Minister said they will probably not resume.

The Mazar-Paute hydroelectric plant on the Rio Paute in Azuay Province.

“The rains during the last five weeks have restored river levels and watersheds near our hydroelectric generation facilities and the predictions are that the rains will continue,” Energy Minister Andrea Arrobo said. “As a precaution, we have set a date when blackouts could potentially resume but do not believe it will be necessary.”

She said the “weather wild card” is El Niño, which could bring more drought conditions to the sierra. “We are observing, however, a weakening of the system and believe normal weather patterns will return.”

She also credited the energy saving campaign “Ecuador lights up with your savings” for ending blackouts. “The people have responded and understand the need to save electricity. We have seen a 5% reduction of usage and as much as 8% in some areas.”

In its official announcement, the Energy Ministry said the improvement in water conditions on the Rio Paute, in southern Ecuador, is the primary reason for suspending blackouts. “The three plants on the Rio Paute are operating at 90% capacity and this can be increased if needed,” the statement said.

Arrobo said plans to increase electric generation capacity are continuing. “We understand that even though we are seeing improvement, we must continue plans to avoid electricity deficits in the future,” she said.

She said talks with Colombia and Peru to establish an interconnected electric grid are well underway and several agreements have already been reached. In addition, the ministry plans to select contractors in the near future to build thermal-powered electric generation plants near the coast.

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