Venezuela begins power rationing as hydropower failure bites
By Paul Homewood
The Venezuelan government has ordered all shopping malls in the country to either shut down power or generate their own electricity as part of a rationing strategy in response to a worsening hydroelectric power crisis.
President Nicolás Maduro’s plan will force more than 100 shopping malls to close for hours on weekdays unless they can generate their own electricity.
Under the three-month plan, malls have to find their own power sources from 1 to 3 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m., according to the Electricity Ministry, adding the measure would help Venezuela cope with a severe drought weighing on its hydroelectric plants.
The country has poured billions into developing its power grid since another electricity crisis in 2009, however problems have persisted.
Business interests have protested at the situation as the wider economy suffers. The International Monetary Fund estimated the economy would contract 8 per cent this year after shrinking 10 per cent in 2015, making Venezuela the world’s worst-performing economy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Electricity Minister Luis Motta said on state television Wednesday that power cuts wouldn’t be applied on weekends and denied that his ministry was limiting business hours. “We’re just asking for self-generation,” he said.
Malls are an important aspect of Venezuelan life, as the country’s crime problem has made them more attractive and secure than city streets.
It is ironic that Venezuela is sat on a sea of oil, yet chooses to rely on an unreliable source of power, which is at the mercy of the weather.