Giant South American Power Outage

Electricity has failed in all of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, along with large sections of Chile and Bolivia and smaller parts of southern Brazil. (The whole "southern cone" of South America.) Many tens of millions of people are in the dark, including the entire cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Rumors seem to be that either generators at a dam near Paraguay in northern Argentina went down, or transmission lines from the dam failed. Then overloads propagated throughout the interconnected network, tripping breakers as they went. Uruguay gets a lot of its electricity from Argentina and its grid collapsed when that electricity stopped coming.

Critics say that successive Argentine governments have kept electricity prices low and refused rate increases to win favor with the people, and the system has been allowed to fall into disrepair. Argentine engineers say that the system should have localized any failures, and that they shouldn't have brought down the entire grid.

People say that they've never seen Buenos Aires without lights or traffic signals. Water is out in some places where there are apparently electric pumps. But they report that the internet is still working in Buenos Aires. Several airports are still operating on emergency generators, as are most hospitals. Stores are mostly closed and normally crowded streets are strangely empty.

The Argentine blackout came as elections for local governors was underway nationwide. Apparently the elections are continuing. A photo below shows what appears to be voters checking a voters roll by the light of their cellphones.

Reportedly power is returning in large parts of Uruguay including Montevideo. Uruguay says that 75% of their country is back up. All of the affected areas of Chile are back up. And there's been some spotty restoration in Argentina as well. They claim that 50% of the country is restored.

The US (and Canada) can't get too smug though, since very similar events blacked out NY, PA, NJ, MA, CT, OH, MI and the Canadian province of Ontario in 2003.

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Quote:Argentina's Energy Ministry Gustavo Lopetegui said the cause of the outage was still being investigated. "We don't have any more information right now on how it occurred. We're not ruling out any possibility, but a cyber attack is not among the main alternatives being considered," he told reporters.

Probably well justified to rule it out. Don't know why anyone would want to hack their grid and measure the magnitude of the results and how long it takes to recover, anyway, unless it was practice for a bigger fish. Angel

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It looks like power is restored everywhere, perhaps with a handful of exceptions. They are still trying to get a better understanding of why it went down in the first place.

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