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Venezuela declares every Friday a holiday to save electricity


Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has designated every Friday in the months of April and May as a non-working holiday, in a bid to save electricity as a prolonged drought pushes water levels to a critical threshold at hydro-generation plants.
The country will unveil details of a 60-day plan to conserve energy, Maduro said, adding that measures would include asking large users such as shopping malls and hotels to generate their own electricity for nine hours a day.
Heavy industries operating in the country will be asked to cut consumption by 20 percent, he said.
“This plan for 60 days, for two months, will allow the country to get through the most difficult period with the most risk,” Maduro said on state television late Wednesday. “I call on families, on the youth, to join this plan with discipline, with conscience and extreme collaboration to confront this extreme situation” of the drought blamed on the El Nino weather system.
The announcement comes after Maduro shut down the country for a week over the Easter holiday last month, giving workers an extra three days off. Those efforts saved almost 22 centimeters of water at Guri Dam in the southern state of Bolivar, which supplies as much as 75 percent of the electricity consumed in the capital Caracas.
If water levels at the dam fall below 240 meters above sea level, the government may have to shut down the plant to avoid damaging turbines — a move that would inevitably lead to increased rationing. The level is currently around 243 meters, Maduro said.

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