|Food shortages, an ever-increasing inflation rate, and communities rife with drug dealing, prostitution, and violence: these are all things that Venezuelans have become accustomed to in the past few years under the strict rule of President Nicolas Maduro.
Now, it appears that Venezuelans will have another hurdle to jump: nationwide electricity rationing.
The BBC and Business Insider have reported that Vice President Jorge Arreaza recently gave a televised speech on Venezuela’s state-run station, explaining that the country is cracking down on electricity consumption in its latest efforts to contain economic disaster.
The standard Venezuelan workday will be cut from eight hours a day to six, in order to reduce electricity consumption, and the government will begin conducting routine inspections in office buildings, shopping malls, factories, and other businesses in retail industries in order to ensure that businesses are complying with the 2013 resolution that ordered a 10% reduction in energy consumption.
Certain industries, including health care, education, and petroleum, will not be affected by the rationing, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Venezuelan government has also called upon its citizens to reduce their electricity consumption at home, since it’s estimated that residential energy consumption makes up approximately 40% of Venezuela’s total energy demand.
Similar to homes in the U.S., where space heating and cooling can make up as much as 45% of homeowners’ energy bills, Venezuelan homeowners spend a large percentage of their income on energy bills. Government subsidies have made energy very affordable for Venezuelans, which has caused the country to become dependent on electricity (especially compared to neighboring countries, where electricity is often considered a luxury).
Venezuelan officials are claiming that climate patterns are to blame, and are pointing to abnormally high regional temperatures as proof that global warming is causing more people to turn up their air conditioners.
Venezuela began increasing its electricity capacity back in 2007, when former President Hugo Chavez nationalized the country’s electrical industry; today the capacity is a little over 20,000 megawatts, but the country continues to push closer to its operational capacity which causes instability and power crashes.
It’s hard to predict just how the energy rationing will affect Venezuela’s economy, considering that the country has released very little data about its finances since the beginning of the year.
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