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Venezuela declares energy emergency

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 February 2010

CARACAS, Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez signed a decree declaring an energy emergency in Venezuela to facilitate his government’s efforts to ease severe energy shortages. “We’ve been working on this because it’s a necessity. The truth is, it’s an emergency,” Chavez said on Monday.

Under the decree, Venezuelans who use more than 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month – an estimated 24 percent of all residential consumers – must reduce their consumption by 10 percent or be required to pay a 75 percent price increase. Those who increase consumption by 10 percent will be slapped with a 100 percent price increase. If they boost usage by 20 percent, the price hike rises to 200 percent.

The Guri Dam supplies most of Venezuela's electricity

Venezuela imposed electricity and water rationing in December to prevent a collapse of the electricity grid as water levels behind the Guri Dam fell to critical lows. The dam supplies most of Venezuela’s electricity.

Rolling blackouts lasting up to four hours are bring imposed throughout the country – except the capital of Caracas – as the country struggles with a severe drought.

Venezuelans who collaborate with the government to save energy will be rewarded, Chavez said. Consumers who reduce their electricity usage by 10 to 20 percent will receive a 25 percent discount on monthly bills. And those who decrease consumption by more than 20 percent will get a 50 percent discount.

Chavez said he’d set an example, vowing that energy consumption at the presidential palace would drop significantly.

The energy conservation plan also requires big businesses and industrial complexes to reduce consumption by 20 percent or face sanctions, including 24-hour to 48-hour shutdowns.

Venezuela is suffering from a drought as Pacific Ocean currents have changed weather patterns as part of the El Nino phenomenon, and Chavez has warned Venezuelans that the South American country’s power woes could worsen if rains don’t come as expected when the rainy season begins in May or June.

“This is the worst summer I’ve seen in my life,” Chavez said. “Everything is dry.” Critics counter that Chavez failed to invest enough in electrical projects to meet growing demand.

Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez announced last week that Chavez’s administration plans to spend $15 billion over the next five years to increase electricity production.

Source: China Daily

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