Massive Power Outage Leaves Venezuela in the Dark, Again

March 08, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

A massive power outage hit most of Venezuela Thursday, reportedly impacting 22 of the South American nation’s 23 states and leaving business, homes, schools, medical facilities and more without electricity.  The outage occurred during the evening rush hour, further complicating matters as residents were trying to get home in the dark.  As of this morning, much of the country was still without power.

This isn’t the first outage to hit Venezuela recently.  In fact, minor outages have become a regular occurrence, and the capital city of Caracas experienced major outage seven months ago.  An electrical grid that once was among the best in the region has fallen into a state of disrepair amid continuing political turmoil. 

Various political figurers cast blame in all directions, including implying that Florida Senator Marco Rubio played a role in the failure through his influence.  According to the AP, “Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said right-wing extremists intent on causing pandemonium in Venezuela and taking orders from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio were behind the blackout.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to respond that neither the United States nor any other country is responsible for the outage, which Venezuela’s Electricity Minister Luis Motta Domingues says is the result of sabotage at the country’s main hydroelectric power plant in Guri, Bolivar.  Pompeo pointed to the “incompetence” of Venezuela’s leadership in providing for its people.

Outages of this magnitude are rare and wreak havoc across impacted areas as residents and businesses have to cope with a sudden lack of resources.  That includes the sick and elderly who require ongoing care and treatment that may become unavailable.

While this is an extreme case, it still is a reminder to all businesses that they must have proper business continuity and power protection systems and protocols in place to handle outages.  The inconvenience and temporary loss of business capabilities is a burden, but one not nearly as significant as having to replace servers and other equipment that suffer damage from surges during outages. 

Power protection systems can deliver backup power through their UPS capabilities, keeping systems online for a period of time – or at least allowing them to be properly shut down to prevent damage and data loss.  But, perhaps more importantly, they provide ongoing protection against spikes and surges that can cause catastrophic damage. 

Think of a power outage – or even surge without an outage – as an attack on businesses.  In essence, power protection is no different than cybersecurity, cloud-based communication services, or cloud data backups.  They are all designed to prevent businesses from suffering costly operational downtime and revenue loss from damaging events.  All of these should be part of every business’ continuity planning to limit downtime and ensure operational capability once situations have normalized.

Edited by Maurice Nagle