QUITO – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Thursday that a power-rationing program in place from November until Jan. 15 resulted in an estimated $250 million in losses for the commercial sector.
“We’ve estimated that sales probably were reduced by $250 million due to the rationing,” according to the leftist president, who announced plans to reimburse consumers through discounts on their electric bills.
“In the February, March and April (electric bills), we’re going to return 10 percent to the residential sector (and) 20 percent to the commercial sector for losses” incurred, the president said, adding that the measure is “symbolic” but “at least the government is now assuming responsibility for not having efficiently provided basic services.”
In an interview with Canal Uno television, Correa, who holds a doctorate in economics, said government figures indicate Ecuador invested around $260 million to resolve the electricity crisis.
Correa praised the Ecuadorian people for adapting to the power rationing regime and said those efforts, together with steps to bring thermo-electric plants into operation, made it possible to halt the electricity cuts.
Nationwide rolling blackouts were prompted by critically low water levels at the Paute Dam, Ecuador’s largest hydroelectric plant.
The decision to suspend the cuts was taken after a thorough analysis of the national electricity grid, the current water situation and the status of the country’s thermo-electric power plants.
Ecuador’s acting electricity minister, Miguel Calahorrano, said a drop in the water levels of the Paute River could make it necessary to ration power once again, but he described that eventuality as “quite unlikely.” EFE