23 November 2007

Blackout count: 3

The Power Supply Fluctuation Watch recorded a new event yesterday. Blackout #3 of the 2007/2008 season has been assigned the name Carlos. It began with minor drops of voltage just after sunset, followed by recovery, and ending with a large loss of voltage that lasted until the morning.

In other news, the outgoing government of Santa Fe led by Governor Jorge Obeid continues to appoint scores of its own officials, political allies, and friends and relatives of the governor, his cabinet, and influential former governor Carlos Reutemann, to high-ranking vacant posts in the public administration, the judiciary and the Provincial Power Company (Empresa Provincial de la Energía, EPE).

Sorrento power plant
On a related note, EPE workers and managers, despite being extremely well-paid, haven't had the time or the ability to repair the Sorrento thermoelectric power plant (located in the northeast of Rosario), which supplies 160 MW to the grid. After a terribly bad summer last year, Sorrento has been out of order for the last ten months, and though it was supposed to resume working in December, further repairs will push the date to early February, after the worst part of summer is over. The head of EPE, governor Obeid's cousin, was not available for comments.

EPE is said to have serious shortages of personnel in certain areas, while others are overpopulated by (or were just created especially to harbour) unqualified people appointed there in violation of regulations just because they have family or political contacts in the management. Wages paid by EPE are legendarily high. The company will close 2007 with an estimated AR$90 million deficit, double the figure of 2006, and will have to be asisted with government (i.e. taxpayers') money.

Since the Front for Victory lost the election in September, the provincial government has been cutting supplies to its public offices, and the quality of its services has gone downhill. This hasn't prevented the government party to advertise itself using the same posters that appeared during the campaign — huge colour prints boasting "4 years of hard work, without raising taxes". The Peronists seem to be determined not to leave a single coin, a single spare printer ink cartridge or a single made-up vacant post on their way out, and are turning the judiciary and the (formally) independent control offices into a minefield for the next administration.

Boy, this will take years to fix...


  1. Do the political appointees serve a time-limited term, or could they be removed by the incoming administration?

    I guess you'll be waiting for the BIG blackout, codenamed Pablo, which wreaks havoc on Rosario ;-)


  2. John - well first of all, sorry for the delay... the blackout actually lasted 36 hours. The political apointees are high-level employees, so either they quit or you fire them with a big severance pay. I hope the incoming administration doesn't mind spending money to rid EPE of those leeches.


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