President Juan Manuel Santos warned Colombians of the possibility of power rationing because an El Niño-linked drought has depleted reservoirs at hydroelectric plants.
“The calculations given us by the technicians have told us that to avoid rationing, we need to save at least 5 percent (in power consumption) every day until the El Niño phenomenon ends,” he said in a speech at the presidential palace.
Santos spoke after meeting with acting Energy Minister Maria Lorena Gutierrez and energy company executives.
Gutierrez is heading the ministry on a provisional basis following the resignation Monday of Minister Tomas Gonzalez amid criticism of his handling of the crisis.
Santos said the government is preparing a campaign that will reward those who save energy while forcing consumers who waste power to pay “double.”
“We need all Colombians – governors, mayors and business – to assume this crusade as a great national crusade,” he said.
Energy consumption is being monitored on a daily basis, the president said, adding that on Monday, when government offices began turning off the lights at 6 p.m., Colombia used 1.7 percent less electricity, though he described the gain as “still not enough.”
“I am optimistic in the sense that I believe Colombians will respond with discipline and commitment and that’s why I am sure we will avoid rationing,” Santos said.
LatinAmerican Herald TRibune