QUITO – The Ecuadorian government expects to end power rationing before the coming holiday season, a member of the team dealing with acute electricity shortages said Tuesday.
“The objective we have set in the crisis Cabinet is, before the Christmas holidays, not to have power cuts in any part of the country,” Diego Borja, Ecuador’s minister for coordination of economic policy, said in an interview with Radio Quito.
Ecuadorians have been living with daily programmed blackouts since Nov. 5 due to persistent drought in the area around the hydroelectric plant that normally supplies 40 percent of the Andean nation’s power.
The reservoir at the Paute River dam is 20 meters (65 feet) below optimal levels and only two of the plant’s 10 turbines are currently functioning.
Paute can supply up to 20,000 MW per hour under normal conditions, but current output is just 4,000-5,000 MW per hour.
Borja highlighted the steps taken by the government to ease the crisis, such as the purchase of an extra 5,200 MW per hour of electricity from neighbors Peru and Colombia.
He also stressed the “enormous investments in electricity” made by President Rafael Correa’s government since taking office in early 2007.
“Technical experts say that in a country such as Ecuador, where there is a great number of hydroelectric sources, a good part of (power) generation can be hydroelectric,” Borja said, citing a figure of 70 percent.
“But the rest has to be thermoelectric and we have in Ecuador 30 years of abandonment of the thermoelectric (plants),” the minister said.
“Despite the government’s enormous investments, the biggest in recent times, it has not been possible to have all the resources to replace all the thermoelectric equipment,” Borja told Radio Quito. EFE