Corpoelec to ration power to combat accelerating demand

Monday, October 19, 2009

Venezuela's state power company Corpoelec will be forced to implement programmed rationing because of increasing demand that cannot be handled by the country's transmission network, state news agency ABN reported.

Year-on-year power demand growth in Venezuela has been averaging 6-7% a month, the country's oil and energy minister Rafael Ramírez said, noting that year-on-year demand growth has historically averaged 4%.

Ramírez attributed the accelerating demand to economic growth, higher temperatures and wasteful power usage.

Start your 15 day free trial now!


Already a subscriber? Please, login

"If we permit demand to rise as it is doing so right now, the entire system will collapse," Ramírez said. "We're trying to slow down demand."

Corpoelec is also looking to boost local capacity in each Venezuelan state, according to the report.

Peak capacity demand on Venezuelan's national SEN grid reached 17.1GW in August, a 7% increase from the maximum capacity in the year-ago month, grid operator Opsis said in its latest report.

Venezuela consumed 10.6TWh during the month, Opsis said without providing comparative statistics for August 2008. Demand in July 2009 reached 10.5TWh.

Demand in the first eight months of this year totaled 80.7TWh, up 3.8% from January-August 2008.

Total grid capacity currently stands at 23.5GW, an increase of 1.63% from the beginning of the year.

Washington, DC-based IDB announced last week that it will loan Corpoelec US$200mn to improve power service across Venezuela.

Corpoelec will use the funds to develop an overall strategy plan for the country's power sector, raise its environmental profile, install a new technology platform and implement a procedural and organizational model for generation, transmission, distribution and marketing.

Venezuela created Corpoelec in 2007 after nationalizing its power sector. The country has seen increased blackouts, most of which were attributed to transmission problems.

Corpoelec announced in September that it would begin to ask customers to reduce demand.

According to the company's plan, government office buildings will attempt to reduce power demand 20% by cutting back on office lighting, computer use and air conditioning.

Increased tariffs will also be charged to the highest 20% of power consumers.

The company is also looking to replace 50mn light bulbs in greater Caracas with efficient bulbs in an effort to reduce demand by 1GW.

Corpoelec, meanwhile, said it would launch a public information campaign to promote efficiency, and the state power firm is looking to form agreements with companies that generate their own power to sell capacity to the grid during peak hours.

Both Corpoelec and state oil company PDVSA have promised to invest billions of dollars in Venezuela's power sector to improve generation, distribution and transmission.