Economy Minister Sergio Massa announced that the government will audit power company Edesur for 180 days, in a process known in Spanish as an intervención (intervention).
The audit will be administrative: the company will continue to oversee general operations, and none of its property or assets will be affected.
The move comes after over a hundred thousand users were left without power around Greater Buenos Aires in the middle of an unseasonal March heatwave. For many, power cuts not only affect appliances such as fans, air conditioning units and fridges, but also pumps, leaving them without running water.
The process aims to “audit that the infrastructure works” and guarantee the “improvement of the service”.
“We can no longer tolerate what has happened over the past 15 days,” said Massa in a short press conference on Monday night. He appointed Jorge Ferraresi, Mayor of Avellaneda, as an auditor, who tweeted that the audit would be “temporary and exceptional”.
The government announced last week that it would instruct regulator ENRE to file criminal complaints against Edesur’s board for misuse of funds, fraud against the public administration, and abandonment of persons.
Edesur has had the exclusive concession to distribute electricity in the south of Buenos Aires since 1992 — a 95-year contract that expires in 2087.
The company is part of the Italian holding Enel, which owns several companies related to the Argentine electricity system. However, Enel announced in November that it would sell its operations in Argentina, as well as Peru and Romania, in a bid to reduce its debt. It said at the time that it hoped the sales would be completed by the end of 2023.