CARACAS — Venezuela, one of the world’s leading oil producers, is trying to limit its power consumption as the country’s decrepit power utilities struggle to keep up with the demand.
The government on Monday said the biggest electricity consumers — shopping malls, factories, office buildings and even some homes — must trim their energy use by 10 percent compared to their monthly average use.
Vice President Elias Jaua and Electrical Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez said in a press conference that homes that manage to cut back on their power use beyond the 10 percent will get sharp discounts in their utility bill, which is already subsidized.
The move follows a series of weekend blackouts, and comes after Venezuela in 2010 imposed stiff power rationing controls for months.
Exemptions include hospitals, oil and gas-related operations, city cleanup services, air traffic control, schools, and embassies.
Government offices however must severely cut back on energy use “to give an example,” according to one decree.
“These are measures for an adequate and rational use of electrical energy aimed at maintaining a steady and safe supply,” Jaua said. They are aimed at “preventing inadequate use,” he said.
Last year the the government blamed the power crisis on a drought — nearly 70 percent of the country’s electricity comes from the Guri hydroelectric plant in southern Venezuela.
Energy experts however say the country’s utility system needs a 20-billion-dollar investment over the next four years to meet demand.
Venezuela nationalized the national electric power utility in 2007.