Countrywide power outage in Argentina, Uruguay

There are 25 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Rice.

  • For those able to access the forum on your cell phones during the power outage -

    Bloomberg news reports that an unnamed Edesur spokesperson says that normalization has begun in BsAs and will take several hours. Clearly, it will take longer in less populated areas.

    If you haven’t already done so, it could prove very important to draw up water in all available containers, locate candles or flashlights, and don’t open fridge/freezer doors except when completely necessary. If you can find any grocery store open, get food in tins and wine!

    And remember that you can charge your phone from a car battery.

  • Much that I loathe Coto, they have their own generator and we were able to buy some batteries for the mother in law's transistor radio.

    In fact, I always have plenty of rechargeable batteries ready, torches, candles and two transistor radios.

    At one stage the cellular service went down, but at least we were able to listen to Radio Mitre on 792 Khz AM until the power came back on at about 1130.

    We also filled up numerous bottles of water just in case.

    Apparently the blackout was caused by a failure at the Salto Grande hydroelectric dam and all the rest of the dams are interconnected.

  • Apparently the blackout was caused by a failure at the Salto Grande hydroelectric dam and all the rest of the dams are interconnected.

    This information will definitely disappoint conspiracy theorists.

  • I woke up at 9:30 and my phone was working correctly, I didn’t notice the power outage until I tried to charge my phone.
    Power was restored at about 1:15PM.
    We found some candles, luckily, and took up on Rice ‘s advice to fill up pots with drinking water until the water reservoir in our building allowed so.

    I am glad that power was restored quickly. This must have been a hell of a morning at the power plants of the South Cone!
    When I studied the electric grid code in my first year of work it was fascinating stuff.
    I loved regular checks we had to do to put those into practice and be prepared for an emergency.

    Let’s call it our moment to shine... when we did our regular work we shone anyway, it was just less evident 😁

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • We didn't get the power back until 7pm twelve hours after it went out.

    Ugh. I hope you had plenty of candles when daylight faded. And either a gas stove or food that could be eaten at room temperature.

    Has anyone tried the dandy-sounding gadget that is a crank radio/flashlight/cell phone charger? It sounds like a good thing to have during a power outage, but I keep not ordering one.

    When I studied the electric grid code in my first year of work it was fascinating stuff.
    I loved regular checks we had to do to put those into practice and be prepared for an emergency.

    serafina, could you please explain the basic concept of the power grid to us non-engineers ?

  • We have a gas cooker so no problem in the cooking department Rice and we have those safety lights which are handy for when it's dark.....which due to the weather came earlier than usual yesterday.

    The biggest pain was having no cold running water. A cheer went up when the power came back on.

  • Although power cuts aren't as common as they used to be we do still get them....we had one last week for a couple of hours. The lights are good as long as you remember to keep them plugged in and charged. Got to watch which ones you buy as some are of poor quality.

  • serafina, could you please explain the basic concept of the power grid to us non-engineers ?

    Power grids are interconnected internationally and what happened on Sunday had consequences all over South America because protections weren't able to 'isolate' / the remaining power plant weren't able to compensate quickly enough the sudden power drop. Of course, this shouldn't happen under normal conditions and it was an extraordinary event. I haven't read a technical detailed explanation of what happened this Sunday, so I am just speculating here.

    Imagine the power grid like a giant ballet figure, like a pyramid. All dancers belong to the same figure, but there are different dancers: sturdier and stronger members are at the bottom supply a steady base, holding the most weight (nuclear power plants, conventional thermal power plants). Others on top can do the nice movements, are slimmer and more flexible (gas turbines, diesel turbines, hydroelectric power plants). Those in the middle provide a steady but less strong strength (wind and photovoltaic), however help expand the pyramid.

    What happens when the knee of one of the big guys at the bottom of the pyramid cracks?

    There are protocols in place which mandate to disconnect quickly to avoid all the pyramid from falling (electrical protections). However, the remaining dancers are not always enough to keep the dance going and the pyramid standing.

    Normally, this means that only part of the pyramid falls (the blackout affects only certain areas of the grid). On Sunday, the whole pyramid fell. The question is: why? Of course, this shouldn't have happened. For example, maybe one protector didn't intervene at all, allowing the cascade effect. Now, there should be double protectors and stuff... but it is called failure for a reason!

    How do you restore the pyramid? Injured dancers may no longer available. You have to call in the replacements, but they aren't immediately available - they need to warm-up, stretch, and get in sync with the other dancers before attempting to re-form the pyramid. This start up time depends on the dancers' body: sturdy, big dancers take longer to join the party (a few hours). Smaller ones can join quickly, and by quickly I mean in 15-20'.

    However, smaller dancers are not enough to form a pyramid, you still need the big guys at the bottom.

    So what you do is you make smaller pyramids, and then interconnect them again, making sure they are dancing to the correct tune.

    If anything works like in Italy (and I believe it does, as I suppose that the Italian power company help build the Argentinian power plants/distribution network back in the '60-70's), there are protocols saying what you should in case of several scenarios, including the total black out. These form the Network Code in Italy. Let's call it the direction of our ballet, to keep up with our analogy.

    I think that restoring power in three hours was totally reasonable. As I explained above, three hours means for a small pyramid to be made, not to completely restore all service to normal working conditions. You don't connect patches of the grid unless you are sure it is in sync and that it will hold on.

    There are failures all the time, but if everything works as it is supposed to, the end-users do not even notice it!

  • Thank you for this practical, and truly lyrical, explanation, serafina. You made really clear both the concept of a power grid’s structure and also the anatomy of power failure & recovery.

    I’m going to carry your ballet dancers around in my head!

  • I was pleasantly surprised that the power came back so quickly. Kudos to them for that.

    Naturally the Fernandez duo blamed Macri for everyfuckingthing.


    At first I thought it was just another power cut which often happens here, although thankfully not as often as it used to under K times. When I heard the extent of it I thought it might take days. So even though we had 12 hours of it I got a shock when it came back on.

    I seem to recall many years ago parts of US/Canada suffered something similar.

  • Electricity never been worse than now, thanks to MM! This was just one, many more to come. Yellow balloons and happy

    Electrons used to do what they wanted under the Ks. Now Mr. M. had them straightened! =O

    But if Fernandez wins they can go back to smoking joints and living la vida criolla.


    Back to the original topic, yesterday I was having a chat with a local engineer who tried to explain me 'the political failure' of last Sunday's power outage.

    I told him there are failures all the time but we don't even notice because they are caught on time. It is really native to think that the network works like a clockwork for 30 years straight and then a black out and we are all poor.

    I have ready many irritating comments by the people, including Prez. candidate Fernandez asking Macri to "return electricity to Argentines" since they had to face price increases in their utility and the result was this blackout.

    Thinking that in 4 years you can really fix a national network is also naive to the utmost extent.

    First of all you need a national energy plan, which spans over various decades. Then you need money to decide how many, which and where to put power plants. Then you need to work on transmission network and finally on distribution. Production, transmission, and distribution are the three key element to power supply.

    Since here you have to oil the right gear, I don't think changes can happen freely since Macri's day 1 in office.