Lasso urges patience as blackouts enter second day, blames previous governments for poor planning

Oct 28, 2023 | 0 comments

As Ecuadorians begin the second day of electricity blackouts, President Guillermo Lasso acknowledged public anger on Friday. He urged patience and understanding of the “extreme weather conditions” that have reduced power generation at the country’s hydro-electric facilities.

President Guillermo Lasso country’s hydro-electric plants.

(For the schedule of Saturday blackouts in Azuay, Cañar and Morona Santiago Provinces, click here.)

“I completely understand the outrage that the power cuts have caused and regret that we have to go through this situation,” Lasso said in Quito. “We are experiencing the most serious drought in 50 years and unfortunately, it is most severe in the areas near our largest generation plants.”

He also claimed that previous governments were negligent in not building more generation capacity. “We were warned about this years ago but nothing was done,” he said. “New facilities require years of planning and we were aware of the rapidly increasing usage of electricity by Ecuadorians.”

Lasso added: “Today, we are forced to purchase at a very high cost emergency generation capacity to fill the deficient.”

Lasso defended his government’s planning, listing five generation projects in the planning or construction phase. Together, he said, they will produce almost 500 megawatts of electricity when completed.

A Cuenca barber shop was powered Friday by a portable generator.

On Friday afternoon, Lasso announced he will travel to Colombia Saturday in an effort to persuade the Colombian electricity authority to increase sales to Ecuador. Two weeks ago, the authority announced it would no longer sell hydro generated power to Ecuador due drought conditions. On his Twitter account, Lasso said he “was on a mission” to understand Colombia’s position as well as request more megawatts.

Traffic jams in Cuenca, other major cities
Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil reported large traffic jams Friday as traffic signals went dark as a result of power cuts. In Cuenca, Mayor Cristian Zamora requested the cooperation and patience of motorists. “This is an unprecedented situation, and we need the support and understanding of all drivers,” he said, adding “If possible, please avoid busy intersections during blackout periods.”

The mayor called Friday “a chaotic day” on city streets and said conditions will approve as additional traffic agents are assigned to busy intersections. “It will take several days to optimize the emergency mobility plan but we are working on it, night and day. There will be improvement.”

Zamora advised residents who did not experience blackouts on Friday to expect them in the coming days. “Not all sectors of the canton had service interruptions today but this will change. We will all share in the sacrifice.”

A run on generators
Several Cuenca stores reported Friday they have sold out of portable electric generators and do not expect new shipments for at least two weeks. “Everyone in the country is looking for new deliveries so we are unable to tell customers when they will arrive,” a manager at the Kywi hardware store told a radio announcer Friday afternoon.

Blackout information
In addition to the schedule posted on its website, CentroSur Electric Company reports it is providing other information on its social media sites, Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter.)

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