Merida, February 1st, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Sunday, president Hugo Chavez announced the creation of a special fund of $1 billion for the strengthening of the national electricity system; implementing 59 generation and distribution projects, and 50 operation and maintenance projects.
The announcement follows months of blackouts in some regions of Venezuela, as the electricity supply has been affected by drought, increased consumption, and bureaucracy in the national electricity company, Corpoelec.
Chavez created the fund through presidential decree, and will transfer the money to the Ministry of Electric Energy, so that “there’s no delay,” he said.
Also yesterday the minister for Energy, Ali Rodriguez, reported that Unit 5 of Termozulia, a large thermoelectric plant in Zulia state, began functioning, adding 140 megawatts to the electricity grid. The government also inaugurated a new thermoelectric plant in Merida state, which will generate 12 megawatts and benefit 33,500 people in the area.
The plant in Merida, one of the areas most affected by the blackouts over the last few months, cost BsF 22.7 million.
In addition, the government is planning to add 1,692 megawatts between now and May, and 2,315 megawatts in the second half of the year. Chavez urged the relevant ministers to speed up the installation and purchase of electricity generation plants.
“It’s about making more effort to purchase new plants from Russia, China, Japan and Germany, and bring them here, “ he said.
He added that due to the prolonged effects of the El Niño phenomenon and the consequent lack of rain, it was important to save electricity and water to prevent the level of Venezuela’s main dam and electricity source, Guri, arriving at a level of collapse. Guri provides 70 percent of Venezuela’s electricity needs.
Recently the government launched an energy saving plan, involving early shop closing times and replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs, among other things, with the aim of reducing electricity consumption by 20%. Rodriguez said that so far consumption has reduced by 4%.