Venezuela relies heavily on hydroelectric power generation but has been suffering from a long and heavy drought. Now it’s taking desperate action, introducing a three-day weekend to help reduce demand for electricity.
Water levels in the country’s major hydro plants are reported by Bloomberg to be reaching a ‘critical’ state. The water level behind the Guri Dam, for instance, currently rests at 243m above sea level — but if it falls to 240, its turbines will have to be shut down until the levels rise, to avoid causing damage.
So the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, has instigated a 60-day plan that will run through April and May to help ease the situation. Every Friday will now be a public holiday, while factories are being asked to cut energy consumption by a fifth. Hotels and malls are even being asked to run generators instead of using mains electricity.
On state TV, Maduro explained:
This plan for 60 days, for two months, will allow the country to get through the most difficult period with the most risk. I call on families, on the youth, to join this plan with discipline, with conscience and extreme collaboration to confront this extreme situation.
The drought is being blamed on the El Niño weather system.
Image of Caracas by Daniel