SEC to investigate SIC power cuts, government planning interconnection studies

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chile's power and fuel regulator SEC will launch an investigation into the causes behind blackouts which affected much of the country's central SIC power grid over the weekend.

Disruption was reported across several parts of the SIC grid between regions IV and X, with some areas left without power for periods of up to 10 hours.

Distribution companies have blamed bad weather for the interruptions, however, the SEC plans to investigate whether the blackouts could have been avoided, and if service was restored as quickly as was possible.

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Fines of US$1.7mn have previously been levied by the SEC for blackouts on a similar scale.

In related news, reports in the Chilean press over the weekend suggest that the country's energy ministry plans to hold a consultancy tender for companies to conduct studies into the possible interconnection of the SIC grid and that of southern region XI (Aysén).

Reports suggest the government will look for information on the environmental and economic aspects of the project through the studies.

Several large hydroelectric projects are currently planned for the Aysén region, including the 2.75GW HidroAysén project and Energía Austral's 640MW Cuervo dam. The companies behind both projects have proposed separate transmission lines connecting the hydro complexes to the SIC grid.

The government has previously spoken of plans to construct an open access grid transmission highway for all energy projects; the project has yet to be fully defined however.

Ministry sources declined to comment on the press reports when contacted by BNamericas.