22 October 2006

There is no crisis... There is no crisis...

... the denial keeps being broadcast, on and on, like a mantra, but the fact is that our never-too-good electrical power supply is in danger. So much, that the sales of portable electrical generators have skyrocketed.

Not long ago, the article in La Capital says, only large factories, clinics and icecream parlour chains bought these generators, but as the heat starts to rise (in preparation for a summer that is bound to be hellish), power cuts are becoming common, so small businesses, office buildings and private homes are getting them as well. Manufacturers in Rosario claim they're installing 2 or 3 every day, and that they're overwhelmed by requests. Moreover, the cost of hiring a portable generator is now customarily included in the expenses of wedding parties. The other day, a downtown section of our own Icecream St. (Pellegrini Avenue) suffered a blackout that forced business to throw away hundreds of kilos of melted sweetness. The horror!

The smallest power-gen apparatuses in the market cost 2,000 pesos (US$660, €500), which is maybe twice a non-professional monthly salary. This lets you keep your lights on, plus air conditioning, a fridge, and a computer (as long as you put fuel into it, which is also expensive and in shortage).

In Santa Fe, the partly-state company EPE, which generates our low-voltage, irregular supply of over-expensive electricity, has stated that the grid will not have a crisis, but they wouldn't guarantee that there won't be blackouts this summer (unlike in 2005, 2004, 2003, and every other summer since I learned how to spell electricidad). The national government simply denies there is a crisis, and somewhat perversely, it refuses to take over-visible measures to prevent a crisis. The perverse part is that they're doing it like that because next year is election season, and the president lives by popular opinion surveys, so he doesn't want to show any weakness (including the acknowledgement that a crisis is looming), but at the same time he wouldn't tolerate public protests because of blackouts. Who understands politicians?

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