10 Feb 2010

Energy emergency declared by Chavez

8:58 am on 10 February 2010

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has signed a decree declaring an "electricity emergency" due to power shortages.

Speaking on his new radio show, President Chavez said Venezuela is facing the worst drought in 100 years.

Heavy energy users will get a discount if they cut consumption, but face price rises if their usage does not fall.

Mr Chavez announced on Monday that he had signed a decree authorising Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez to take the necessary measures to guarantee the electricity supply.

The BBC reports the decree will be in force initially for 60 days.

Although Venezuela has big oil reserves, it is dependent on hydro-electricity for some 70% of its power.

Energy and rationing is already in place, except in the capital, Caracas, where the measures were suspended amid protests.