Venezuela ending electricity rationing as dam ‘recovered’

CARACAS, Venezuela, July 5 (UPI) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday said nationwide electricity rationing has ended as the drought-stricken Guri hydroelectric dam has “recovered.”

Maduro in late April began a 40-day program to ration electricity to four hours a day in 10 of Venezuela’s 23 states. On Monday, Maduro said the Guri dam “recovered and we’re in a position where we can resume normal service.”

Venezuela was “six days away from a collapse … we were facing having to turn off almost the entire country” before the rationing, Maduro said.

Venezuela depends on hydroelectric power for about 60 percent of energy needs but an ongoing drought critically deteriorated the hydroelectric infrastructure output.

Critics of Maduro’s government say government inefficiency, lack of maintenance and lack of investment have exacerbated the problem. Maduro’s administration has blamed a the “El Niño” weather pattern and alleged collusion between the United States and Venezuelan business leaders for making things worse.

Maduro previously called on large electricity consumers, such as malls and manufacturing companies, to generate about 20 percent of their own electricity.

The Guri hydroelectric plant in Venezuela’s Bolívar state, which supplies the country with 63 percent of its hydroelectric power, in April was less than 10 feet from dipping to a critically low water level.

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