Photo via Huffpost

In response to this week’s high temperatures that crept up to close to 40 degrees Celsius at certain points, residents from Buenos Aires and the surrounding area predictably increased their electricity consumption in order to not melt to death. However, the poor state of the infrastructure used to carry this electricity couldn’t handle the increase in all cases, and left nearly 51,000 residents without power.

According to The Administrative Company of the Wholesale Electricity Market, electricity use reached an all-time maximum of 25,595 MW this Thursday. However, the shortage problem lies with distributors, not electric supplies.

Edesur and Edenor, two electricity distributors in the Buenos Aires area, are the main culprits. At the moment this article is being written, they are unable to supply service to about 51,000 users combined. And it’s not like the problem just started with Thursday’s spike in electric use. Some users claim to have been without electricity since February 14th, a full week and a half ago. You can check how many people don’t have electricity in real time here.

So what’s the deal? We have electric supplies, as last year’s shortages encouraged electric imports from Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. Edesur has responded with positive messages, comparing the reduction in the amount of homes afflicted and the longevity of shortages compared to last summer.  Edenor insists that the shortages are not unreasonable extended or prolonged, and that shortages are concentrated to day time hours.

But go tell that to the users who claim to haven’t had electricity for days in a row with temperatures that don’t drop below 30 degrees Celsius. This morning, residents in the neighborhood of Boedo staged a blockade at the intersection of San Juan Avenue and Treinta y Tres Orientales, demanding solutions. They say problems for them began on February 15. That they the number of affected people was as high as 150,000.

Moreover, daytime shortages are not reasonable for vulnerable populations. Given the recent heat advisories, a lack of cool spaces for the elderly, young children, people with certain chronic disorders, and pets is dangerous. Until this heat breaks (and access to electricity is consistent) stay cool with plentiful of water, seek out air conditioning, and check in with your community.

What’s true, however, is that outages were not a generalized problem during this summer, as it was the case in previous years. Summers of 2013 and 2014 were especially complicated, and people took to the streets on a daily basis to complain about the poor electric service. Tensions reached a point where residents staged violent protests in front of the supplying companies’ buildings.

Photo via Vecinos por la luz.
Photo via Vecinos por la luz.

However, there’s still a long, long way to go before a heat wave doesn’t bring power outages with it. So keep on practicing that rain dance, you’ll still need it for a while.