QUITO – The Ecuadorian government declared an emergency in the electricity sector due to a generating shortfall at the nation’s biggest hydroelectric plant, which has forced the adoption of energy rationing programs across the country.
The coordinating minister of strategic sectors, Galo Borja, said that the measure was determined at a Cabinet meeting Friday in the town of Joya de los Sachas in the eastern Amazonian province of Orellana.
Borja, in a statement published in the official online daily El Ciudadano, said that President Rafael Correa issued a decree in which he declared a state of electrical emergency nationwide for the next 60 days.
The measure seeks to guarantee the continuity and supply of electricity, the minister said, adding that the decision responds to the nationwide power shortage caused by a drop in production at the Paute hydroelectric power station, the nation’s largest, affected by severely low water levels.
Borja said that the state of emergency will allow the Finance Ministry to take the corresponding measures to guarantee imports of the fuel needed by thermoelectric plants, which use fossil fuels to generate electricity.
He also said that the ruling, which includes a series of measures to deal with the power shortage, requires the state oil corporation Petroecuador to deliver fuel on an emergency basis and without prerequisites to electricity generators.
The government announcement came two days after the energy rationing program went into effect across the country that will continue until Saturday, the minister of electricity and renewable energy, Esteban Albornoz, said Thursday.
The drought affecting Ecuador’s southern Andean region for some weeks has caused a “drastic decrease” in the volume of water flowing into the dam at the Paute plant, which supplies 35 percent of the nation’s internal electricity demand.
Albornoz said that rationing will mean daily cuts of between 5 and 10 percent of the usual electricity supply.