It has emerged that the the far reaching power cut that plunged most of Chile into darkness for several hourson Sunday 14 February was caused by the failure of a high voltage transformer on the country’s central grid.

The blackout was not related to the earthquake that hit the city of Concepcion in late February, according to the country’s energy minister Ricardo Rainieri.

Power went out at 2050 local time when a 500 kV transformer located at Charrúa, 700 km south of the country’s capital, failed. The area affected by the blackout stretched 2000 km and took out the entire SIC central grid.

Ranieri has warned that the SIC grid remains fragile after the earthquake and says that more blackouts are possible, according to local media. Around 90 per cent of the population was affected by the blackout.

Power was restored to most of those affected by the blackout by the next day.

The Charrúa substation is supplied mainly by large hydro plants and was transmitting around 1100 MW in the direction of Santiago at the time of the failure, according to analysts Celfin Capital. Celfin also says that the event could push up short-term spot prices in the country.