No blackouts until at least May 27 but energy minister warns there could be more to come

May 15, 2024 | 0 comments

Energy Minister Roberto Luque has extended the suspension of power blackout until at least May 27 but says maintenance work at several plants could require interruptions in the future. Problems at the Coca Codo Sinclair, east of Quito, continue to complicate the long-term electricity outlook, he said.

Energy Minister Roberto Luque

“A month ago, it was the drought in Azuay Province that was the biggest issue,” he said. “That has been overcome by increased rainfall and the Paute River facilities are back to near normal generation capacity. Now, we are focused on the condition of equipment at the Coca Codo plant and the siltation that is causing damage.” He added that cleaning and repairing the filtration system near the turbines is a bigger job than originally thought.

Luque said repairs are also required at smaller hydro and thermal plants in Guayas, Los Ríos, Sucumbíos and Manabí Provinces. “Maintenace has also been neglected at these facilities and could result in regional blackout periods in Durán, Lago Agrio and Portoviejo.”

Luque said that expending blackout suspensions until May 27 means there will be no power interruptions during the Battle of Pichincha independence holiday that begins May 24. “People are making plans now for the holiday and we want them to know they do not need to worry about blackouts,” he said.

Because of improving reservoir conditions, Luque said that Ecuador has not purchased additional electricity from Colombia during the past 10 days. He added the cost of Colombian power is higher than Ecuador can generate at its thermal plants. “We are adding more thermal capacity so we will only import electricity for emergencies,” he said.

In a Tuesday news conference, Luque said that investigations are underway concerning contracts national electric companies CELEC and CNEL signed between 2018 and 2022. “We are not saying fraud was committed in these transactions but there are many irregularities and questions about what we received for our money,” he said, adding that the contracts under review totaled $588 million.

Luque travels to Central and North America on Wednesday to talk to contractors who may bid on new thermal plants in Ecuador.

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