“In Venezuela, now more than ever, there is a very high chance of facing a national blackout; the possibility is greater than in any other country,” stated Miguel Lara, an electrical engineer specializing in power systems, who for 30 years worked at the OPSIS, the entity responsible until 2004 for coordinating the operations and planning of the Venezuelan electrical grid.
Lara told the PanAm Post that the Venezuelan electrical grid is increasingly weakened and abandoned, and explained that the blackouts that were previously infrequent and lasted for a few hours, now happen daily and may take more than 24 hours to fix. He suggested that the South American country is twenty years behind where it should be, with respect to its electrical grid.
“The deterioration of the power grid has accelerated mainly because power generation has been falling to such a point that today Venezuela generates much less than what was produced 20 years ago,” he said.
“Already the equipment has millions of hours beyond its recommended use, each machine has up to two years during which it hasn’t been subjected to maintenance checks; there are no economic resources for new investments, and there is no trained personnel capable of supervising necessary work.”
The inadequate electrical grid in Venezuela is just one of the many precarious conditions that Venezuelans face thanks to the 21st Century socialism implemented by Hugo Chávez and continued by Nicolás Maduro. From January until March 12, 2018, the Committee of People Affected by Power Outage registered 1,979 power outages throughout the national territory.
Chavismo’s institutionalized underinvestment
Chavismo in Venezuela managed to turn the electrical system of the South American country into one of the most underdeveloped and poorly maintained in the world. While the Maduro regime has announced that it will finance solar energy projects in Caribbean islands, the nation faces dozens of blackouts on a daily basis, leaving at least six states simultaneously without electric power.
For more than 15 years, the Venezuelan State has not made the necessary investments in the thermoelectric generation system. The plants are working at 10% or 20% of their capacities. For this reason, from Caracas to states in the interior of the country, people suffer from daily blackouts, sometimes to such an extent that the country’s main airport has been paralyzed.
Venezuelans are living in a country where there is no water, there is no electricity, there is no food or medicine, and Chavismo, which now has been in power for 18 years, holds third parties responsible, blames alleged sabotage, and “economic and electric wars”, without ever solving any of these serious problems.
“The destruction of the Venezuelan electricity system was done on purpose.”
The Minister of Electric Energy, Luis Motta Domínguez, assures that the last blackouts in Venezuela are due to “mother nature” and the supposed low levels of water in the country’s reservoirs. In December, for example, he said that “a bamboo rod was used to “sabotage our electricity.”
But nobody in the regime wants to discuss how, since 2013, all the electrical substations in the country have been militarized, yet the regime has not been able to stop the alleged sabotage. The truth is that the executive has only used excuses and lies to hide the negligence and “electric cannibalism” that exists in the country.
Víctor Poleo, former Vice Minister of Energy and Mines between 1999 and 2001 revealed through the Chavista portal Aporrea that “the destruction of the Venezuelan electricity system was done on purpose.”
Miguel Lara agrees, and assures that “what has occurred with the Venezuelan electrical system is done with full knowledge of what is happening.”
Putting out fires with a garden hose
Not only has there been a decrease in power generation, but transmission and distribution equipment have presented serious failures; transmission lines are falling, or have corroded, transformers have exploded. All of this evidences a dire lack of maintenance.
These problems are compounded by the lack of trained personnel in the National Electric Corporation (Corppoelec): “The trained personnel have been emigrating due to the situation in the country; there are more than 15,000 electrical system workers who have left in the last three years.”
Lara explained that workers simply do not have the necessary tools or equipment. Inventories of spare parts have been depleted. The transport equipment has been dismantled, and workers do not have necessary safety equipment.
“To say that there is sabotage is an excuse that the regime finds to hide the neglect; our system was designed so that when taking out of service the most important power generation stations, nobody suffered from blackout, so that there would be no need for rationing of any kind, but all that has been lost,” said the specialist.
The Chavista minister’s excuses ring hollow, and it is abundantly clear to any experts that there has been massive mismanagement and incompetence in the entire Venezuelan energy sector.
“Everything indicates that if there is not a political change in Venezuela, every day the electric grid will worsen, and we can expect increasingly severe power cuts,” he predicted.