Ecuador president declares power emergency
Aug 8, 2007 - Xinhua
QUITO, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency in the nation's power sector Wednesday, amid a surge in national electricity consumption and an energy export stoppage by Colombia.
Ecuador's hydroelectric power system is also beset by major water shortages, affecting power generation.
In an attempt to bring the situation under control, Correa has authorized fuel imports for the nation's thermoelectric plants and state energy company PetroEcuador is to offer trade credits for raw materials to power stations.
Energy consumption in Ecuador has surged by 8 percent recently, despite government appeals to people to be more economical. The increase in demand coincides with halt in exports from Colombia because of problems with its dams.
Ecuador's hydroelectric system is running below capacity due to maintenance work being carried out in preparation for the next drop in the nation's underground water level, which is set to hit power supplies.
The hydroelectric power station in the southern Paute region is suffering from a chronic water shortage, also hitting output.
Ecuador relies on hydroelectric for 70 percent of its energy needs.
According to an estimate by former president Alfredo Palacio's government, Ecuador needs to invest billions of dollars to increase power generation and reduce energy dependence on Colombia and Peru.
Ecuador imported 100 million U.S. dollars worth of electricity from Colombia in 2006, reaching 1.6 gigawatts, or 14 percent of Ecuador's electricity demands.