Colombia Power Operator Warns of Outage Risks Amid Drought

(Bloomberg) — Colombia’s power market operator is warning that low water reservoir levels are at risk of sparking power outages across the country during peak demand hours as the hydroelectric system suffers under the effects of a drought.

Most Read from Bloomberg

With about two-thirds of its installed capacity coming from hydropower, the Andean nation’s electrical system is vulnerable to the dry conditions that have come as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. It has also brought record temperatures and wildfires in recent months.

Read more: Colombia Declares National Disaster as Wildfires Destroy Forests

These conditions have sapped the hydroelectric power generation capacity, with reservoirs only containing about 32% of their total capacity, XM SA said in a letter addressed to the government dated March 30. Meanwhile, energy demand grew more than 8% in March compared to the same month a year ago.

The operator is asking the Colombian government to take action, including by cutting electricity exports to Ecuador —which account for about 3% of the nation’s total electricity demand—, to shore up supply. It is also asking that it make sure that gas-fired plants have enough of the fuel available.

Read also: Colombia Boosts LNG Imports Ahead of El Niño Dry Weather

Energy Minister Andres Camacho downplayed the urgency and said in a post on X that while average reservoir capacity is near record lows, it’s still almost 5 percentage points higher than what is considered critical levels. With some experts pointing to El Niño ending this month, Camacho added that the weather phenomenon is at its final phase and while the country cannot be completely relaxed, there is no risk of outages.

“Now we enter a key phase, the recovery of the reservoirs,” Camacho wrote.

(Adds minister’s comments starting in fifth paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *