Grid capacity and gas constraints heighten fears of power cuts

Following a blackout that affected seven regions of Chile in late March, local media has been warned Chile that it may see power rationing begin in May if rainfall until then isn’t sufficient to boost hydroelectric capacity.

Although the blackout was caused by a transmission fault, the country’s SIC central grid is vulnerable, facing a combination of gas shortages, generation and transmission faults.

According to the reports, however, ministers have denied that rationing is imminent saying that in the absence of water or gas, power producers can turn to diesel or coal.

The SIC grid, which covers the heavily populated central region of the country, is already operating at maximum capacity and won’t be able to cover demand if water levels in reservoirs don’t rise. The rainy season begins in April in Chile. Chile buys the vast majority of Argentina’s gas exports and uses the fuel to generate around a third of its electricity.