Ecuador Experiences Nationwide Power Outage

People look for alternative transport as Quito metro stopped after a blackout in Quito June 19, 2024.

Ecuador experienced a nationwide blackout on Wednesday, leaving its 18 million residents without power.

Energy Minister Roberto Luque attributed the widespread outage to a transmission line incident in southern Ecuador, which resulted in a “cascading disconnection.”

The blackout, the first of its kind in 20 years, “shows how fragile our system is, and reflects the energy crisis we’re experiencing,” Luque told reporters in Guayaquil.

By 7 p.m. local time, 95% of power service had been restored, and full service is expected to resume before midnight local time, according to the government.

Quito’s Mayor Pabel Muñoz reported that the city’s recently inaugurated subway, which has an independent backup power supply, also ceased operations.

Ecuador had already experienced a series of rolling blackouts earlier this year due to a severe drought. However, heavy rains in recent days also forced the disconnection of the country’s largest hydroelectric plant due to erosion risks. This prompted private pipeline operator Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA to shut down its pipeline and declare force majeure.

Luque maintained that proper investment and maintenance of transmission lines would have prevented the incident. Plans to prevent a total blackout were developed two decades ago after the previous outage, but were never implemented, he added.