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Spot the difference.

April 28, 2016

 

Venezuela, a country with the world's largest oil reserves, can't even guarantee to its citizens that the electricity will properly work, leaving 30 million people without power for days.

Two million public sector employees in Venezuela will only have to work two days a week, getting mandatory five-day weekends as part of the Venezuelan government's latest last-gasp attempt to save power.

This came after the President of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro cuts power for four hours a day to save energy and had closed the entire country for five days during Easter holidays in March.

The vast majority of the country's electricity comes not from fossil fuel generators but from hydroelectric dams. 

Most of the time, hydropower is a clean, reliable source of electricity. The trouble occurs when there's a drought and water levels in the reservoir fall too low to spin the dam's turbines. That's what's happening at Venezuela's massive Guri Dam, which provides 75 percent of Caracas' electricity. If water levels fall four more meters, which could happen by the end of April, operators have to shut the turbines off.

This problem isn't unique to Venezuela: any place that relies on dams faces this risk. California has seen its hydro output plummet in the past few years amid a historic dry spell. The difference is that California has excess electric capacity elsewhere — natural gas turbines, mainly — that it can fire up to compensate. Venezuela, crucially, doesn't have a good backup plan if its dams fail. And that's where the years of mismanagement come in.

Venezuela's socialist government has badly mismanaged the electric grid for years. Since 2000, the country has failed to add enough electric capacity to satisfy soaring demand, making it incredibly vulnerable to disruptions at its existing dams. Venezuela has been enduring periodic blackouts and rationing ever since 2009 — and there's no sign things will improve anytime soon.

Source:
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/17/11254860/venezuela-electricity-crisis

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