Shining a Light on Venezuela's Blackout: Could Minutemen Have Saved the Day?

December 09, 2013

By Nicole Spector - Contributing Writer

On the eve of December 3rd, roughly half of the country of Venezuela — which hosts a population of approximately 29,100,000 — lost power. The massive size of the outage which lasted three hours, and the timing of it, in particular, has people asking questions. President Nicolas Maduro just happened to be giving a televised speech in advance of the country's municipal elections when the blackout occurred.

Maduro and his supporters are convinced that the power outage was part of a conspired attack, one that would force the president to postpone the elections which were scheduled for December 8.

"What motive could there be for leaving a whole country without electricity?" Maduro challenged, and added: "We always face these attacks by the right-wing fascists ... they wanted to make me, as president of the republic, decree a state of emergency and suspend the elections."

Venezuela's Electricity Minister, Jesse Chacon, shot down Maduro's enraged conviction, suggesting that the cause of outage, which is the second serious blackout to strike Venezuela this year, was a total mystery. "The system is 30 years old and a failure of this kind has never occurred,” said Chacon.

The government has since come up with an explanation for the shutdown, claiming that it was caused by a ruptured conductor in a transmission line. Few are buying that story, though. Electrical engineer Jose Manuel Aller has been piping up to the press about what he thinks really happened. He told AFP: "Just before the blackout there was an oscillation in the network, which generally occurs when transmission limits are exceeded, causing a failure that activates the security systems."

Whatever the cause, it's over now, and fortunately the outage was less than catastrophic, but as Chacon pointed out, the system in Venezuela is old and chances are it doesn't feature much in the way of technological advancements. One thing that could help Venezuela going forward, provided the government doesn't want to invest in a total electrical revamp, is Minuteman's line of battery backup products. Its Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) products offer complete protection from all power problems — that presumably includes vandalism.

Minutemen has a range of battery backup solutions to choose from, including one that can provide a save for an entire facility. Its extended run time option can keep power going for more than eight hours, which would have more than covered the blackout period in Venezuela. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson