Govt. launches power savings plan

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Ecuador's government aims to reduce power consumption by 5% over the next four months in an energy efficiency program that would trim US$70mn from the country's fuels import bill, local press reported.

Not all measures in the savings program have been defined yet, said Marlene Palacios, from the mines and energy ministry's renewable power and energy efficiency department.

To encourage savings, the government's efficiency program will offer those residential users that cut their power use by at least 20% the chance to participate in a prize draw, with houses and cars for the winners.

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According to ministry data, 39% of the population uses up to 50kWh/month, 41% uses 50-150kWh/month, 14% use 150-300kWh/month and 6% use over 300kWh/month.

Commercial and industrial sector power clients could have their tariffs reduced to reward lower consumption.

Ecuador's power sector is in organizational chaos, and last week President Lucio Gutiérrez sent an emergency bill to congress that would impose some order on the sector and ensure that distributors pay generators for power consumed. Following that, the power sector was officially declared this week to be in a state of emergency.

Added to this background, the government estimates that if the dry season is particularly severe this year, there could be power deficits of up to 150MW. But according to mines and energy minister Eduardo López, power supplies are guaranteed, as state oil company Petroecuador has already imported 3 million barrels of diesel for power generators.

The power savings campaign is Ecuador's third in the last 15 years.