Argentina intervenes in power company Edesur after blackouts

BUENOS AIRES, March 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s government announced on Monday a 180-day intervention in power company Edesur, after repeated blackouts in the Buenos Aires area affected households and businesses in the midst of summer heat waves.

The intervention on the private company controlled by Italy’s Enel led to the appointment of a state official to oversee compliance with the electricity service.

“Situations like the ones that thousands of Argentines lived through over the last 15 days cannot be tolerated any longer,” Economy Minister Sergio Massa said when announcing the decision.

Argentina’s Economy Ministry said in February it was fining Edesur for 1 billion pesos ($5.2 million) due to persistent power outages in Buenos Aires.

The South American country has been hit by drought since last year, which has battered its key soybean, corn and wheat crops. The summer’s high temperature and heat waves have exacerbated the impact on the harvests. (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Stephen Coates)