2009 Ecuador electricity crisis
The 2009 Ecuador electricity crisis was caused by a severe drought that depleted water levels at hydroelectric plants. Ecuador experienced rolling blackouts for two to six hours per day that lasted from November 2009 until January 2010.
The electricity crisis arose from Ecuador's worst drought in 40 years, which began in September 2009. Government experts attributed the drought to the El Nino phenomenon. Because of the drought, water levels at the Paute River dam—which normally supplies 40% of Ecuador's power—were extremely low. The reservoir's water level is normally 1,991 meters above sea level, but as of November 10 was only 1,968 meters above sea level. The minimum level is 1,965 meters. As of November 11, only two of the dam's 10 turbines were functioning. Normally, the dam can supply up to 20,000 megawatts (MW), but the dam's output was only 4,000-5,000 MW as of November 11.
Beginning November 5, rolling blackouts took place across Ecuador for two to six hours per day. Government officials also urged citizens to conserve energy. Economic losses from the blackouts are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars; factory output slowed, and storage of perishables was disrupted.
On November 6, the government declared an emergency in the power sector, which was expected to "allow the Finance Ministry to seek to guarantee fuel imports for thermoelectric plants". The government also agreed to purchase an additional 5,200 MW of electricity from Peru and Colombia. Government officials aimed to end power rationing before Christmas.
In mid-January 2010, the blackouts were "suspended indefinitely", following increased water levels and the acquisition of several generators. In February, Ecuador stopped the import of electricity from Colombia and Peru.
- “Drought Blamed for Blackouts in Ecuador”. Latin American Herald Tribune (November 11, 2009).
- “Ecuador energy crisis cripples production, disrupts cities”. United Press International (November 17, 2009).
- Mercedes Alvaro. “Ecuador Negotiates Emergency Electricity Imports With Peru”. Wall Street Journal (November 9, 2009).
- “Ecuador Aims to End Power Rationing Before Christmas”. Latin American Herald Tribune (November 17, 2009).