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Energy crisis in Ecuador: The government suspended the work day for two days due to the hydropower deficit

Energy crisis in Ecuador: The government suspended the work day for two days due to the hydropower deficit

Daniel Noboa (Reuters/Karen Toro)

I ordered Ecuador this Wednesday Suspension of public and private work for two daysThis is in the face of the energy crisis resulting from the historical deficit in the reservoirs that feed the hydroelectric stations, which led to Power outages for up to six hours.

A presidential statement indicated that there will be no work on Thursday and Friday in the public and private sectors to maintain power plants, which means “Energy rationing at certain, unchangeable times.” Who will be contacted within the next few hours.

The report added that 22 people were referred to the Public Prosecution Accused of “paralyzing the public service”, they included high-ranking officials – including former Energy Minister Andrea Arrobo, who was sacked the day before.

Restaurant employees try to continue their work using handmade kitchen tools in the face of a power outage ordered by the Department of Energy, in Quito (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

A presidential statement stated that after the preliminary investigation at the Ministry of Energy,… Hiding information Regarding the critical conditions of the Mazar and Bauti reservoirs, whose storage levels are at 0% and 4%, respectively, which “exceeds historical records.”

President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency in the energy sector the day before, dismissing the sector's minister and announcing that the state would cover 50% of Ecuadorian families' April salaries. This comes after a sudden power outage that began on Sunday and became official on Tuesday. Noboa decided to investigate alleged acts of sabotage in the sector, for which he had provided no evidence.

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Colombia stopped exporting energy to Ecuador As a measure to deal with the serious drought associated with the El Nino phenomenon, which left the country's reservoirs less than 30% of their capacity.

In the face of the energy crisis, Noboa noted on Tuesday that in April only 50% of electricity bills will be charged to households.

For the former Minister of Energy, Esteban AlbornozThe “extremely delicate” situation the energy sector is going through “cannot be resolved in the short term.” According to what he told the agency APThe only option to confront the crisis is thermal generation – through the use of fuel – and this is estimated It will take “two to eight months” for the situation to be resolved if decisions are made in a timely manner.

The expert said that lack of investment and implementation of an annual energy integration plan, as well as lack of maintenance of power plants, would be the real reasons behind the emergency, wondering whether weather conditions were being used as an excuse because “technically, we should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.”

“Demand in Ecuador is growing by about 4% to 5%, which means we have to add 250 megawatts of new generation every year, and there is a big delay,” Albornoz said.

The sudden rationing came after the country's most important reserve flow in a reservoir was exhausted shrineWhich feeds the two largest hydroelectric power plants, bot And blowerWhich, together with the Coca Kudu plant, produces about 40% of the energy that the country needs.

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According to the National Electricity Corporation, 78% of the energy comes from hydroelectric sources and the rest from thermal power plants and non-traditional sources such as wind energy.

Energy advisor José Luis Hidalgo agreed that the rationing solution would not emerge in the short term and could be extended for up to a year, with periods of larger and smaller restrictions subject to rains being able to replenish hydroelectric reservoirs from May. .

For the consultant, the root of the crisis is the lack of economic resources due to the subsidies provided to sectors such as mining, which are supplied with energy at a cost three times lower than the value of production and 11 times less than what they pay. Residential users.

At the end of last year and until February, Ecuador imposed daily energy rationing in response to shortfalls in electricity production from hydroelectric plants.

(With information from AFP, AP and EFE)