Chile - Major power blackout affects cities, mines; cause unknown : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Blackout hits north Chile, cuts power to mines

SANTIAGO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A major blackout hit northern Chile on Friday, interrupting power to cities and mines including Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, officials said.

"The cause of the failure is being investigated," northern Chile's CDEC agency, which coordinates the dispatch of energy, said in a statement.

In a statement, power producer Empresa Electrica del Norte Grande (Edelnor) said a glitch at the rival GasAtacama generator in the coastal town of Mejillones caused the failure.

Officials at GasAtacama refused to comment.

Power was cut at 1221 local/1521 GMT on Friday and was still out as of late afternoon, but in some cities local emergency generators were running, CDEC said. The blackout hit the northern electric grid (SING), which supplies the Tarapaca and Antofagasta regions, it said.

"Industrial operations like mines are halted unless they have their own generators," CDEC said. "There will surely be losses."

Escondida was still without power as of late afternoon, but emergency generators were booted up at some critical parts of the operation, a spokeswoman said.

"There have been four hours less of production," said spokeswoman Alejandra Wood. "The (oxide) plant and the concentrator are still paralyzed."

"The failure at the (GasAtacama) generator, which right before the blackout was generating about 400 megawatts, caused a complete loss of supply to the cities of Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Tocopilla, Mejillones and Calama as well as to mining clients," Edelnor said.

Edelnor said that 100 percent of power was later restored to Arica, Iquique and Tocopilla but that energy in Antofagasta and Calama had only been reestablished in 50 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

An official at Radomiro Tomic, a mining division of state-owned Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, said the outage at the mine lasted "a few minutes" and that production would not be hurt.

An official at Placer Dome Inc. , which owns the Zaldivar copper mine, said authorities were investigating the blackout but could not provide more information.

Officials were unavailable for comment at the giant Collahuasi copper mine. Anglo American Plc and Canada's Falconbridge each have a 44 percent stake in Collahuasi, and a Japanese consortium, led by Mitsui & Co, controls the remaining 12 percent.

Source: America Online News, 17:42, 02-25-00, no url available

-- Lee Maloney (, February 28, 2000


This article calls the power outage serious and very unusual. I translated it using Alta Vista's translator.....

SEC studies compensation of users by light cuts

Monday 28 of February of 2000, 19:15 ORB

SANTIAGO. - The Supervision of Electricity and Combustible (SEC) studies the possibility of compensating the users of the regions of the great north of the country, that in these last days have been affected by prolonged electrical power shutdowns.

To thus the holder of this organism declared it, Juan Pablo Lorenzini, who described this fact like the situation more serious than out has been lived as a result of successive black (total blackouts), " since previously never we had been with such circumstances of instability in the service ", admitted.

Lorenzini explained that if the cuts are not framed in causal legal for interruption the on watch one, " we will return to instruct the distributors so that they compensate the affected users ".

It insisted that if these companies return to repeat this situation, " we will judicially fight the interests of the users, because we want that the law is fulfilled ", needed, giving to understand that the SEC evaluates the possibility of presenting/displaying judicial resources in the courts of the affected regions.

Original in Spanish:

SEC estudia compensacisn de usuarios por cortes de luz

Lunes 28 de Febrero de 2000, 19:15 ORBE

SANTIAGO.- La Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustible (SEC) estudia la posibilidad de compensar a los usuarios de las regiones del norte grande del pams, quienes en estos zltimos dmas han sido afectados por prolongados cortes de energma elictrica.

Asm lo manifests el titular de dicho organismo, Juan Pablo Lorenzini, quien califics este hecho como la situacisn mas grave que se ha vivido a ramz de los sucesivos black out (apagones totales), "ya que anteriormente nunca nos habmamos encontrado con tales circunstancias de inestabilidad en el servicio", admitis.

Lorenzini explics que si los cortes no se enmarcan en las causales legales para interrupcisn de servicio, "volveremos a instruir a las distribuidoras para que compensen a los usuarios afectados".

Insistis que si estas empresas vuelven a repetir esta situacisn, "pelearemos judicialmente los intereses de los usuarios, porque queremos que la ley se cumpla", preciss, dando a entender que la SEC evalza la posibilidad de presentar recursos judiciales en los tribunales de las regiones afectadas. Source: El Mercurio Electronico (The Electronic Mercury), Chile e_noticia.asp?idnoticia=16214

-- Lee Maloney (, February 29, 2000.

Earliest report:

Source: The Electric Mercury (El Electronico Mercurio), Chile, translated using Alta Vista's translator

They follow the blackouts in the north

Saturday 26 of February of 2000, 16:58 EFE

SANTIAGO. - Several cities of the north of Chile suffer from the noon of (Friday) yesterday prolonged blackouts because of a flaw in one of the most important power stations of the region that has not managed to be corrected, today informed the authorities into the sector.

The situation, besides to harm the inhabitants of the regions of Tarapaca and Antofagasta, that include cities like Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta, Tocopilla and Calama, has caused great losses to the mining industry, when paralyzing several great state copper deposits and prevailed, they indicated the sources.

The problems in the Interconnected System of Norte Grande (SING) began last the noon of Friday and they must to the fall of two units of the Thermal power station " Atacama ", located in the locality of Mejillones, to 1,400 kilometers of Santiago.

During the night the situation tended to standardize itself, but today new cuts in the provision have taken place, said the authorities of the National Commission of Energy and the Supervision of Electrical Services.

The power station " Atacama ", that is fed on originating natural gas of Argentina, also had presented/displayed serious failures the 25 of July and the 23 of September of the last year.

The electrical companies that operate in the affected zone have put into diesel operation old turbines, among other destined measures to palliate the situation while the provision is standardized. idnoticia=16134

Original in Spanish

Siguen los apagones en el norte

Sabado 26 de Febrero de 2000, 16:58


SANTIAGO.- Varias ciudades del norte de Chile sufren desde el mediodma de ayer (viernes) prolongados apagones a causa de un desperfecto en una de las centrales mas importantes de la regisn que no ha logrado ser subsanado, informaron hoy las autoridades del sector.

La situacisn, ademas de perjudicar a los habitantes de las regiones de Tarapaca y Antofagasta, que incluyen ciudades como Arica, Iquique y Antofagasta, Tocopilla y Calama, ha ocasionado grandes pirdidas a la industria minera, al paralizar varios grandes yacimientos de cobre estatales y privados, indicaron las fuentes.

Los problemas en el Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande (SING) comenzaron pasado el mediodma del viernes y se deben a la camda de dos unidades de la Central Tirmica "Atacama", situada en la localidad de Mejillones, a 1.400 kilsmetros de Santiago.

Durante la noche la situacisn tendis a normalizarse, pero hoy se han producido nuevos cortes en el suministro, dijeron las autoridades de la Comisisn Nacional de Energma y de la Superintendencia de Servicios Elictricos.

La central "Atacama", que se alimenta de gas natural proveniente de Argentina, tambiin habma presentado fallos graves el 25 de julio y el 23 de septiembre del aqo pasado.

Las empresas elictricas que operan en la zona afectada han puesto en funcionamiento antiguas turbinas diesel, entre otras medidas destinadas a paliar la situacisn mientras se normaliza el suministro.

-- Lee Maloney (, February 29, 2000.

Litigation in the works over Chile's massive blackout, consumers in an uproar over losses.....

Consumers of II the Region [Region 2] undertake actions by light cuts

Monday 28 of February of 2000, 16:12 ORB

ANTOFAGASTA. - The Organization of Consumers and Users of Antofagasta and the Communal Union of Meetings of Neighbors of the city announced that they will undertake legal actions to obtain that the electrical company Antofagasta is responsible for the power shutdowns that the past affected to the Interconnected System of Norte Grande (SING) weekend.

The litigant organizations today formulated a call to all the consumers who were themselves affected by the cuts to approach the offices of the Organization of Consumers located in Washington 2531 of this city, with the ticket of payment of the service to become part in the process against the company.

The representatives of both organizations also announced that they will carry out a pacific march until the corporative office of the company to express the manager to him of the organization, their malaise before the happened thing.

They denounced that successive black out produced during the past weekend caused millionaires losses caused by the forced closings of the commercial premises, burned electronic equipment and the food decomposition.

To these losses, they said, they must also add the loss of the 15 mining companies that had to suspend their tasks for more than 30 hours.

It is possible to remember that this it is the third generalized power cut that takes place in less of a year, the previous ones registered the 25 of July and the 23 of September. In the first occasion the Supervision of Electrical Services applied to millionaires fines, but the companies appealed reason why the process still is in courts.

The power situation of the Second Region has stayed during all the day and until spent the 14 hours in complete normality.

Original in Spanish:

Consumidores de la II Regisn emprenden acciones por cortes de luz Lunes 28 de Febrero de 2000, 16:12


ANTOFAGASTA.- La Organizacisn de Consumidores y Usuarios de Antofagasta y la Unisn Comunal de Juntas de Vecinos de la ciudad anunciaron que emprenderan acciones judiciales para conseguir que la empresa elictrica Antofagasta responda por los cortes de energma que afectaron al Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande (SING) el pasado fin de semana.

Las organizaciones litigantes formularon hoy un llamado a todos los consumidores que se vieron afectados por los cortes a acercarse a las oficinas de la Organizacisn de Consumidores ubicadas en Washington 2531 de esta ciudad, con la boleta de pago del servicio para hacerse parte en el proceso contra la empresa.

Los representantes de ambas entidades anunciaron tambiin que efectuaran una marcha pacmfica hasta la oficina corporativa de la empresa para expresarle al gerente de la entidad, su malestar ante lo sucedido.

Denunciaron que los sucesivos black out producidos durante el pasado fin de semana provocaron millonarias pirdidas ocasionadas por los obligados cierres de locales comerciales, equipos electrsnicos quemados y la descomposicisn de alimentos.

A estas pirdidas, dijeron, deben agregarse tambiin la pirdida de las 15 empresas mineras que debieron suspender sus faenas durante mas de 30 horas.

Cabe recordar que este es el tercer corte energitico generalizado que se produce en menos de un aqo, los anteriores se registraron el 25 de julio y el 23 de septiembre. En la primera ocasisn la Superintendencia de Servicios Elictricos aplics millonarias multas, pero las empresas apelaron por lo que el proceso azn se encuentra en tribunales.

La situacisn energitica de la Segunda Regisn se ha mantenido durante toda la jornada y hasta pasadas las 14 horas en completa normalidad.

Source: El Electronico Mercurio (The Electronic Mercury), Chile e_noticia.asp?idnoticia=16197

-- Lee Maloney (, February 29, 2000.

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