July 20, 2017 / 9:31 PM / 8 months ago

Enel, CGE face claims and possible fines over Santiago blackout

SANTIAGO, July 20 (Reuters) - Electricity suppliers Enel Distribucion and CGE are facing regulator sanctions and claims for compensation after thousands of homes in Chile suffered days without power following a snowstorm on Saturday.

The electricity regulator SEC said it was investigating the apparent inability of Enel Distribucion, a unit of Italy’s Enel, and CGE, owned by Spain’s Gas Natural, to promptly reconnect households after snow blanketed central Chile early Saturday, a relatively rare event.

Almost 200,000 households in Santiago and south of the capital were left without electricity for over 20 hours in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter after the snow led trees and power lines to collapse. Some are still without power nearly a week later.

Angry residents and councils in Santiago’s affluent eastern neighborhoods, which were among the hardest hit by the blackout, have said they would look at making collective claims against the energy providers.

Enel Distribucion’s parent Enel Chile said affected clients would received a credit of $38 for each night they were without supply. The company would pay compensation totalling between $4 million and $5 million, it said.

It said on Twitter that it was “continuing to work on the normalization of the energy supply.”

CGE, meanwhile, “has no large sector left without energy supply,” Jorge Diaz, technical department head at CGE, told reporters Thursday.

The companies have 15 days to present their case to the SEC and the regulator will then decide if they should be sanctioned. That is likely to mean fines but could potentially also imply the removal of the concessions.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara and Rosalba O'Brien

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