Venezuela restringirá uso de energía por segundo año consecutivo (en inglés)
Si Venezuela, que es un país petrolero y rico en recursos hídricos, se ve en la necesidad de programar apagones, que será de nosotros, panameñitos vida mía, si nos oponemos a la construcción de hidroeléctricas para continuar con la dependencia de recursos ajenos?
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Venezuela to Restrict Electricity Use for Second Straight Year on Blackout
Venezuela, the largest oil producer in South America, will announce measures to curb electricity consumption for a second-consecutive year today, prompted by a blackout in the country’s most-populous state, Zulia, over the weekend.
Vice President Elias Jaua said that the measures will be announced tomorrow in a press conference with Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez. A failure at the Tablazo power plant in Zulia left five western states without power on Saturday morning and authorities continued to work last night to restore service to Maracaibo, the second-largest city.
Venezuela’s power grid has been strained since a severe drought last year threatened to halt the largest hydroelectric plant, which prompted the government to halt some steel production, impose rolling blackouts and set fines for large consumers. Demand is outpacing new generation capacity, Jaua said yesterday on state television.
“We’ve been dealing with this situation for about two months, trying to avoid sudden interruptions in service, the current demand keeps climbing,” Jaua said yesterday. “We need to take extraordinary measures to regulate the demand and stabilize the grid.”
Jaua said that President Hugo Chavez, who is currently recovering from an unplanned surgery in Cuba for a pelvic abscess, has been in contact with his cabinet to design policies to resolve the electricity problem. Jaua didn’t provide details on what measures may be announced.
A nationwide blackout on April 7 knocked about 10,000 megawatts offline, or about 65 percent of demand, which slowed output at heavy oil upgraders in the east of the country.
An official at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, who isn’t authorized to speak publicly, said that no oil operations were affected by the blackout in energy-rich Zulia state over the weekend.
Chavez installed about 1,700 megawatts of new generation capacity last year, below the government’s 5,000-megawatt target. Rodriguez said the government expects to add 2,568 megawatts to the grid this year.
Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said in April that the government invested $5.5 billion in the electricity industry last year and that another $3 billion to $4 billion will be spent this year to bolster the grid.
Chavez, who has blamed foes for sabotage against electricity installations, previous governments for failing to invest in the sector and climate change, nationalized Electricidad de Caracas in 2007, paying AES Corp., a U.S. power producer, $739.3 million for its 82 percent stake in the company.
The power shortages also deepened Venezuela’s economic recession last year as manufacturers were forced to pare output. The economy grew 4.5 percent in the first quarter after contracting 1.7 percent in 2010.
Chavez last year urged Venezuelans to take 2 minute “socialist showers,” use candles and to pare the use of air conditioners to deal with the crisis. He also worked with Cubans in an attempt to provoke rain by releasing silver iodide or carbon dioxide into cumulous clouds in a practice called cloud seeding.
The opposition says that the government has neglected the electricity sector since the nationalization. Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, called for Electricity Minister Rodriguez to be replaced, El Universal reported.
“Who is Chavez going to blame with what’s happening with the electricity sector, the crime, high cost of life? Christopher Columbus? The blame falls on him and his government,” Ledezma said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Cancel in Caracas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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