June 29, 2017
Venezuela Changes Time Zone To Save Electricity - Power Crisis Forces Country To Move Back To Old Time Zone By Forwarding Clocks 30 Minutes

Venezuela has changed its time zone to mitigate an electricity crisis. While it may seem confusing, the country has decided to go back to its old time zone by moving the clocks ahead by 30 minutes.

Venezuela's government has decided to move its time zone forward by 30 minutes because of a national electricity crisis. From next month, the country will be back to its former time zone, which lies about four hours behind Greenwich Meant Time (GMT). The move will accord more hours of legally available daylight in the evening, when the demand for power is usually higher. It was Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro Moros, who shared he has a new plan while addressing the country's energy problems during a national address on Thursday.

"I'm going to modify the time zone in Venezuela starting on May 1 to help save electricity."
At that time, Maduro hadn't disclosed if the clocks will be moved forward or will had to be reversed, but hinted the decision and its consequences would be explained in the coming days. Interestingly, regional experts had predicted that the current president would most likely reverse the decision taken by the late President Hugo Chavez regarding the Venezuela's time zone.
President Chavez had clocks turned back by half an hour in 2007. At that time, he had reasoned that children didn't have enough sunlight when they woke up to attend school. He shared he had the clocks turn back to ensure there would light when children woke up for school, reported Sky News. Chavez added moving the clocks back would ease daily pre-dawn commutes for school children and the poor.

Venezuela has been struggling with acute power shortage. The country has been suffering from painfully repetitive and prolonged blackouts. The current government has blamed the power crisis on the extended drought. According to Bloomberg, water levels at the country's largest hydroelectric dam, which services nearly 75 percent of the power to the capital, Caracas, and its 3 million inhabitants, is dropping to record lows. The drought has forced the country to impose restrictions on water usage. The Guri dam complex is critical for the country's power generation and if the water levels plummet further, electrical production may have to be shuttered, note experts.

According to official records, the dam is currently at 243 meters. If the level drops below 240 meters, the dam won't be able to offer enough water to keep the turbines rotating. In such a scenario, the government will be forced to switch off the hydroelectric power plant to protect the turbines and this move further will put pressure on the country's remaining power plants.

Apart from a dwindling supply of water, the drought has also resulted in the imposition of rationing electricity to the city's commercial hubs. As an additional measure to mitigate the power crisis, Maduro was announced 15 shopping malls in the country will be subject to electricity rationing, reported Reuters. Interestingly, the country had mandated the malls to produce their own power using electricity generators, but the shopping complexes had allegedly dragged their feet. The government has also ordered the state-owned companies to cut electricity consumption by about 20 percent.

Venezuela recently added Friday to the weekend holiday, effectively making it a four-day work week for public sector worker. The decision is valid until June 6.

Ironically, Venezuela's economy is majorly driven by oil exports. Essentially, 95 percent of its export revenue is derived from the commercial export of crude oil. With steadily plummeting oil prices, the country is on the brink of an economic collapse. According to the IMF, Inflation in Venezuela, which was already at a world leading level of 275 percent in 2015, is expected to surge to 720 percent in 2016.

Venezuela owns the world's largest crude oil reserves. The country could have used oil to generate electricity, but has refused the method, claiming it is "inefficient." Should Venezuela invest in renewable energy projects to generate electricity?

[Photo by Juan Barreto/Getty Images]