Power Outage in Venezuela Paralyzes 70 Percent of the Country

September 09, 2013

By Frank Griffin - Contributing Writer

Venezuela is one of the largest producers of oil in the world, pumping more than three million barrels a day. The country also has natural gas and hydroelectric power, which in theory should not result in the registration of 534 blackouts in the country in the first six months of this year alone. The latest incident which took place on September 3rd left 17 states and portions of the capital city of Caracas without power throughout the day. This time the incident was blamed on sabotage from right-wing extremists, but in other instances birds, iguanas and even an opossum have been blamed.

The country has been trying to develop a modern grid with investments totaling around $7.2 billion from the government, but experts believe lack of technical knowledge and issues of accountability has prevented the country from implementing a reliable power infrastructure.

Venezuela has an installed capacity for electricity of around 25,000 Mw but only 18,000 is used to meet the current demand, leaving some power plants that are not in use.

In February of this year, a power outage resulted in eight states having to go without power when five to eight turbines of the Guri hydroelectric plant were out of service, followed by a fire later in the month which left 10 states without power.

One of the biggest problems in the country is the system is running at full capacity virtually all of the time, magnifying any damage to the system whether it was caused by an iguana or someone the government chooses to vilify at the time.

While the capital enjoys some degree of reliability, brownouts are very common in many cities around the country, leaving many citizens in Venezuela having to endure conditions much worse than in Third World countries with much fewer resources.

According to a government spokesperson, power was restored to the capital and five other states late Tuesday night.

Although the country is heavily dependent on oil, there are many tech-related businesses that rely on a reliable power infrastructure to provide services in the country. If their assets are not adequately protected with backup generators, surge protectors, and UPS systems these blackouts and brownouts will damage much of the expensive equipment used to provide these services.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson