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the last blackout


What differentiates our blackouts from those that occur in countries where people pay for energy what it costs, is the probability of occurrence and its magnitude.

I must clarify that the title of this note refers to the chronological, to the most recent, not to the end of the blackouts.

These can happen all the time, even in the world's most advanced electrical systems.

But, what differentiates our blackouts from those that occur in countries where people pay for energy what it costs, is the probability of occurrence and its magnitude.

The probability is related to the preventive measures and the magnitude with the level of investment allocated to the generation equipment and the transmission and distribution networks.

Before continuing and in consideration of those who were interested in reading this note with little knowledge on the subject, let me explain what a national level interconnected system, SADI, is all about.

It serves to unite sources of electricity generation, which some still call Power Plants, with electricity consumers concentrated in cities and large industries.

And this is so because renewable energies, whose location was arranged by nature, are far from the centers of consumption.

For example: the Comahue hydroelectric plants, such as Chocón, Piedra del Águila and others, those of the Litoral, Yacyretá and Salto Grande.

Also the wind farms that are in the south, where the wind abounds, or the solar ones in areas of high radiation such as the NOA.

SADI has a central administrator, CAMMESA, which is a private management company with a public and non-profit purpose in which 80% of its shareholding is owned, in equal parts, by associations representing electricity market agents. wholesaler (Generators, Distributors, Transporters and Large Users), while the remaining 20% ​​belongs to the State.

Its original function was to financially dispatch the generation plants, introduce them into the transmission network and charge the aforementioned market agents.

For the transportation and distribution segments, that is, the part of the system that allows electricity to be brought to end users, homes, businesses, companies, etc.

The services are regulated by law via the ENRE, an autonomous entity in charge of ensuring the rights of users, promoting competitiveness and investment, and ensuring an appropriate rate level.

Today the roles of these two key components of the electrical service have been distorted, becoming part of the problem.

CAMMESA is a loss-making company that was attached to the purchase of fuel for the generators and the administration of deficits resulting from insufficient tariffs.

While the ENRE was always intervened by the four Kirchner governments, becoming one more instrument for their power objectives.

The Argentine electricity market until 2003 was fed by the genuine income from the sale of electricity.

It functioned as a public service attended by private companies, where the generation component was free and the transportation and distribution component was regulated and all within a legal framework originating in Law 24065.

This system worked correctly until the irruption of the state interventionism of Kirchnerism that, under the protection of the permanent economic emergency law, distorted all the regulatory scaffolding that had successfully governed the energy sector since the early 1990s and that had allowed it to be capitalized with private investments that They endowed the sector with quality, reliability and supply capacity.

Thanks to these investments made in less than 10 years, some USD 30,000 million at today's values, cuts were reduced to less than 11 hours per user/year, a value in line with those adopted by more developed countries.

While users paid a full rate, without subsidies and one of the lowest in the region.

The heat revealed the weakness of the electrical system after more than three years of resuming the freeze with insufficient subsidies.

However, these very poor subsidies were around USD 8,500 million last year.

These anomalies generated by energy populism mean that we have an electrical service in accordance with what we pay for, less than 40% of the cost.

But the government, the only one responsible for the situation, as usual, does not assume its guilt and seeks to transfer it to third parties, in this case to EDESUR, threatening it with abstract legal claims and even with expropriation which, under the current conditions of state interference, can only be of interest. to the Cámpora and expert companies in regulated markets or, without euphemisms, belonging to the capitalism of friends.

It is necessary to understand that in the concession contract one of the parties, the State, unilaterally breached its commitment to pay the concessionaire, EDESUR, thus exempting it from carrying out investments in a magnitude commensurate with the reduction in remuneration.

Until recently, the cuts, except those produced by accidents in the transmission lines, were due to the deterioration of the distribution network, but lately the generation deficit has been added as a cause.

But how, you may wonder, if the government says that there is more than 40,000 MW of installed capacity and the maximum demand is around 29,000?

Yes, but it does not say that, due to lack of investment that is not covered by the subsidy, there are more than 8,000 MW out of service, due to a shortage of spare parts, maintenance and even fuel, and another 3,000 MW due to low hydraulic power, unavailability of renewables and Atucha II stop.

There is no reserve, it is a vulnerable system.

If the subsidies, which are the difference between what the KWh costs on our meter and what we pay for it, were fully contributed by the State, the companies would have continued producing and investing as if there were no freeze.

But these subsidies never covered the investments committed by the companies, so the service collapsed.

On the other hand, the main funding for these subsidies became the issuance which, with a certain delay, returned to the users transformed into inflation.

So, what is the business of not paying for energy what it costs if what I stop paying in the rate is to the detriment of my purchasing power and my quality of life in the face of a precarious electricity supply?

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Source: clarin

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