More funds for power infrastructure: The struggle for a trustworthy power generation system

Since Chavez came to presidency, Venezuela’s economy has grown to fulfil the increasing demand for human dignity. More people are able to access the country’s economic wealth and, at the same time, Venezuela has opened its markets to China and other significant manufacturing leaders. Today, more poor people are able to buy very cheap Chinese fans, refrigerators and TV sets as the least material possessions that many treasure in land where it is hotter each year, and where public runs until 10-11pm.

More funds for power infrastructure: The struggle for a trustworthy power generation system in Venezuela

 By Jose Herrera

Since Chavez came to presidency, Venezuela’s economy has grown to fulfill the increasing demand for human dignity. More people are able to access the country’s economic wealth and, at the same time, Venezuela has opened its markets to China and other significant manufacturing leaders. Today, more poor people are able to buy very cheap Chinese fans, refrigerators and TV sets as the least material possessions that many treasure in land where it is hotter each year, and where public runs until 10-11pm. Some are even able to buy an upgrade pack, which is air conditioning and computer, even pre-paid slow Internet access. A significant group of Venezuelans are now able to buy their own washing machines and driers, without any knowledge of the current global intention to eventually lower consumption of electricity. In fact, there appears to be a tendency among Venezuelans to enjoy wasting resources, such as water and electricity. A growing smaller group of Venezuelans have been excessive consumers before the arrival of Chavez. Major cities have more and more shopping centres or malls. In Caracas, the last big one to be built was too big and just in the most congested area of the city to be allowed by authorities to start operations. Generally,it appears that more and more Venezuelans are enticed by shopping centres, which offer wide air-conditioned halls in a country where the sun and humidity may bring discomfort at peak hours. Prestigious not-too wide avenues or streets are heavily trafficked during evenings where a smaller group of people go to cafes and bars driving cars that are very usually full of gasoline because it costs between US$ 1 and 6 to fill a tank. It is clear that Venezuelan people are not willing to maintain or reduce their pace of consumption; none of the above groups display this. A few very small groups, such as the academic, may display the interest in understanding about environmental awareness and an even smaller group of committed individuals actually do attempt to lead a self-monitored environmentally sensible way of living.


From simple observation, one can see that the Venezuelan (by Chavez) government has been broadcasting propaganda to foster conservation of resources, one of them attempting to teach Venezuelans that air conditioners don’t have to be in the COLDEST setting at all times. This is given the electricity waste evidenced by the fact people wear sweaters and jackets inside banks, clinics and office buildings even households where it is frequently cooler than comfortable. In some cases, the waste of electricity caused by air conditioning is due to the necessity of wearing European clothing at a given in-door occasion. Private TV networks respond to these governmental propaganda ad campaigns by calling them pro-communist, disregarding any need for environmental awareness among the population. In a few words, consumption, and specifically power consumption in Venezuela is experiencing permanent demand because of the massive access to the system from many excluded people and because of the irresponsible waste by the other side of Venezuela, which has traditionally wasted electricity.


This constant increase in power consumption implies that the electric system that Venezuela inherited from the Fourth Republic must be upgraded as fast as the Venezuelan populations seeks power-dependent ways to make life easier. In an informal conversation with a PDVSA employee who has been informally inspecting the electric infrastructure, it was reported that many of the funds allocated for updates have been in many cases diverted. He assures that the top government remains oblivious. Top government seems to be devoted to getting new projects going. This PDVSA employee expressed his concern and said: “soon, it will become impossible to have a stable supply of electricity” in Venezuela… He also reported that this was a forgotten matter and that it would only become important when it became chaotic. This conversation took place in January 2009.

At this point, it is relevant to point out that many government projects still, and unwillingly, rely on many mostly privately owned contractor firms to execute certain major and intermediate infrastructural projects. Venezuelan people of diverse backgrounds who belong to the aforementioned society ofexcessive consumption usually lead these contractor firms. Many of these contractor company owners have fled the country for two reasons. Some leave forthe USA with their huge profit savings because they have been revoked their concessions as contractor firms that provided services to the government WITHOUT offering basic health insurance benefit for their contracted personnel, because of tax evasion, or perhaps illegal or criminal practices. Some leave because they have been approved a project and given funds but choose not to execute it. They’d rather buy dollars and move to Miami before being audited or inspected by any governmental institution. In short words, great part of the power generation and distribution system has not been properly updated. Just lately was the government able to legally get a hold of the entire electric system of the country, which had been partly sold to different companies less than two decades ago. These contractor firms failed to invest foreseeing that the nationalizing tendency of the government would reach them. Let us remember that Chavez is up against a group of families that are quite similar to the ones incharge of the de-facto Honduran government for the last hundred days or so. Let us recall that when the Venezuelan Coup in 2002 took place, this flashy Venezuelan elite bought so many bolivares from their USD foreign accounts that they were able to say the next day on the news that the bolivar had gotten stronger in regards to the dollar just as an effect of Chavez’s disappearance. When Chavez was reinstated as President 47 hours later, they bought dollars back again to make the Bolivar devalue in a matter of hours in order to recreate the entrance of monstrous Chavez back to power.


Approaching the end of 2009, power failure chaos appears to show up before the eyes of the top government. It is sad to realize that the top government had previously provided some relevant funds to avoid chaos years ago. Few Venezuelans were expecting such an embarrassing electric system episode, as the current one. Power failures have become frequent in most states. Many households have lost refrigerators and other appliances and electronic devices to the power instability of the last months. More Venezuelans who rely on their desktop computers to work or study are now forced to buy parallel-market-dollar priced (about 3 times over) back-up batteries.


The government actions are taken in the midst of chaos. Those who follow recent Venezuelan history may remember that the oil industry sabotage precisely after thecoup was a parallel chaotic episode to the current electric situation. The permanently cheaper-than-bottled-water Venezuelan gasoline availability was suddenly interrupted. There were people lining up for gas or diesel in all gas stations in Venezuela. People would bring portable barbecue grills and share it with others on a side of the road at the entrance of gas stations while expecting a gas truck (that was not part of the strike) to deliver gas. The government, six months later than necessary, was able to realize that it was necessary to pass a law that would prioritize, by passing a law, the distribution of gas. Now, in the midst of the electric crisis, the government has realized, about 9 months later, that it is needed to prioritize the generation and distribution of electricity. This time, chaos is not about revoking gasoline truck contractors who joined a political cause against Chavez’s discourse. This time it is about fighting the inefficiency of a power system that was not updated by contractors that owned part of it and are now gone. It is about fighting wasteful tendencies but it is also about investing to get a reliable system. Venezuelans can only hope that the following report on the new budget for electricity (USD 192 MM) by the Bolivarian News Agency truly gets invested properly. We Venezuelans expect that no more Trust Funds Inspectors are assassinated (such as Maria Spinas) by pillagers such as Manuel Andrade (in jail) in Anzoategui, for doing their job, protecting the country from pillagers. We also hope that Trust Funds Inspectors, as well as other individuals who are in charge of gargantuan amounts of money, to keep their ethics by refusing and rejecting the pillagers advances.


Accordingto ABN:

“The Venezuelan Government approved 413 million bolivares (US$ 192 million) to put in motion 34 projects called critical priorities 2009, which would generate, transfer and distribute other 1,474 megawatts to the national electric system.


The information was given by the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez Frias in a Minister Council held at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas.


The projects should be fully working by December 2010.


The works include:


Anzoategui (northeastern Venezuela), repairing the Plant of Guanta to generate 50 megawatts and the turbines in Pariaguan that will add other 5 megawatts. Fourteen million bolivares (6.5 million) were allocated for such purpose.


Also in Anzoategui,the Venezuelan Government will work in the addition of distributed generation 2009 in Barcelona, Cantaura and Santa Ana, which would add other 20 megawatts for a sum of 22.3 million bolivares (US$ 10.4 million).


In Apure (central Venezuela), 8.8 million bolivares (US$ 4.1 million) were approved for the distributed generation plan 2009 in La Mancanilla and Guasdualito that will produce 17 megawatts.


In Aragua (northern Venezuela), works will be executed in Camatagua, Corinza and San Jacinto to generate 39 megawatts for which 19.5 million bolivares (US$ 9.1 million) were allocated.


In Bolivar (eastern Venezuela), distributed generation will be aimed at Caicara del Orinoco, Fuerte Callaurima, Pijiguaos and Tumeremo to produce 54 megawatts with an investment of 31 million bolivares (US$ 14.4 million).


In Callaurima, tenmillion bolivares (US$ 4.7 million) were approved for a provisional sub-station.


In Carabobo (northern Venezuela), the machine number 4 of the Planta Centro, paralyzed due to maintenance, is already active and generating 300 megawatts.


Likewise, in Carabobo,the machine number 1 of the Planta Centro is under reparation for which 71 million bolivares were approved and it will generate 400 megawatts for the national electric system.


In Falcon (northwestern Venezuela), there were approved 312 million bolivares (US$ 145million) to improve the Plant Josefa Camejo and add 150 megawatts.


In Lara (western Venezuela), forty megawatts will be generated with the maintenance of the Plant Algiro Gavaldon for a sum of 12.5 million bolivares (US$ 5.8 million).


In Monagas (northeastern Venezuela), the Government approved 8.7 million bolivares (US$4.1 million) to improve the circuit of Santa Barbara and repair a 20 megawatts unit.


In Nueva Esparta (i.e.Margarita Island in north eastern Venezuela), there will be installed a generation plant of 20 megawatts for a sum of 13.2 million bolivares (US$ 6.14million)”







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