Roughly 70 percent of Venezuela was without power on Tuesday, when problems arose in the Bajo Caroni region that generates much of the country’s power. Power was restored by nightfall in Caracas, but President Nicolas Maduro blamed the opposition for sabotaging the country’s power source, The Guardian reports.
Venezuela has experienced a series of power outages, despite its vast oil reserves, but previous outages were confined to areas outside of metropolitan Caracas, which the Guardian says is home to one-sixth of the country’s 28 million population.
Fourteen out of 23 states were without power for the day and Maduro blamed the extreme rightwing, an accusation he has made in the past on other occasions. However, Maduro said the oil industry was not affected. He accused the opposition, which he says is continuing its opposition to the “revolution” begun by the late Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president who passed away in March from cancer, after ruling the country for 14 years. He announced that he had ordered military protection for the country during the outage.
The opposition countered with the accusation that Maduro’s government had not made sufficient investments in the electrical grid or sanctioned new power plants to keep pace with demand. They accused the government of focusing on populist schemes for the poor. The Guardian reports that government authorities said delays in infrastructure projects that would have increased power plants are partially to blame.
The outage threw traffic into chaos in Caracas, and the subway system ground to a halt and authorities had to evacuate several passenger trains.
Closer to home, “flex alerts” have helped some states avoid power cuts during the peak summer period. In July, the California power grid avoided problems despite a heat wave and a nuclear plant outage.
The state’s biggest nuclear plant, Pacific Gas & Electric’s 1,122- MW Diablo Canyon Power Plant, shut down on June 27 before the heat wave started, resuming activity just prior to peak load on July 2 as the temperatures started to cool.