Power outage affects many areas of Chile

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pichilemu, Chile — A power outage affected many areas of Chile this evening. It is presumed to have been caused by a fault in the Chilean Sistema Interconectado Central (Central Interconnected System). Power was cut off between the Antofagasta Region and Los Lagos Region, including cities like Santiago, Valparaíso, La Serena, Pichilemu and Talca, at 20:50 (23:50 UTC). After twenty minutes, power was restored in some parts of Providencia.

Santiago de Chile during the blackout.
Image: Pablo Trincado.

It surprised the people that were in shopping centers and in massive events, like the game between Deportes La Serena and Audax Italiano, which was cancelled, and the solidarity concert "Rock por Chile" ("Rock for Chile") that was being performed in Santiago's Movistar Arena. The outage also interrupted the Chilean Subway; personnel are currently evacuating users.

The communications manager of Chilectra, the Chilean main power provider, reported to TVN that the power is coming back slowly to the Metropolitan Region. "We don't know exactly what happened. We are not receiving power in the distribution network in Santiago. The power is coming back, but is probable that in the outlying areas will be more difficult. [...] After the earthquake we did the corresponding fixes, so we don't know if this is related to the earthquake directly," Larraín said.

The Presidency General Clerk Minister, Cristián Larroulet said, as reported by El Mercurio, that the power was going to be restored in around three hours. "Effectively there's an outage from Taltal until Los Lagos, probably because of the debility of the lines because of the earthquakes [...] It is another consequence of the earthquake that affected our country," he added.

[...] It is another consequence of the earthquake that affected our country.

—Cristián Larroulet, Chilean Presidency General Clerk Minister

The Interior Minister, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, as reported by El Mercurio at 22:20 local time (01:20 UTC), informed from the ONEMI that the outage that affected many areas of Chile was produced by a failure in a 500 kilowatts transformer from Charrúa-Temuco, that caused a major fault in the Central Interconnected System.

According to Clemente Pérez, Santiago's Metro chief executive, Santiago's subway was going to work normally today if the power service remains stable. The Central Interconnected System chief executive, Eduardo Ricke Muñoz, estimated at 22:44 local time (01:44 UTC) that the power service was going to be rerun in all the affected areas in the following two hours. It was later reported by El Mercurio that the failed transformer was located near Los Ángeles, in the Bío Bío Region.

At 23:54 local time (02:54 UTC), Rodrigo Hinzpeter said: "We still cannot rerun the power service in the Bío Bío region, but we are doing our best and we hope to restablish it in the next few hours".

At 00:30 local time (03:30 UTC), ONEMI reported that the power was restored in an 88 per cent. They detailed by region:

At 01:28 local time (04:28 UTC), Rodrigo Hinzpeter, the Interior Minister, informed via his Twitter account (@rhinzpeter), that the 93% of the power supply was rerun. The State Clerk also warranted that in Concepción, the power was restored in a 40%.

Later, ONEMI ratified the information that Hinzpeter provided, and detailed the power recovering region by region, and the regions that have changed their percentage are:


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