Power to the people: Venezuela calls holiday to save energy

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has a new strategy to stave off a major power crisis: a weeklong holiday for all workers.

The extended furlough adding three days to next week's Easter holiday was announced in the official gazette Tuesday. It comes after the country's electricity minister warned that the water level at the nation's largest dam has fallen to within just 3 meters (10 feet) of its minimum operating level.

The government blames the critical situation on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and sabotage of the electrical grid. For months it has been urging Venezuelans to cut back on use of appliances.

Industry experts say the crisis could've been prevented had the government invested in maintenance and followed through on planned expansion of thermoelectric plants.