Americas News

Venezuela to change time zone to alleviate energy shortages

Venezuela's government has decided to change the country's time zone by 30 minutes from May 1 in a bid to alleviate energy shortages.

Venezuela’s government announced Friday that it has decided to change the country’s time zone on May 1 in a bid to alleviate energy shortages.

Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza said Venezuela is shifting its time zone forward 30 minutes to save power in an attempt to mitigate an electricity crisis the government blames on El Niño.

“This will allow us to enjoy more daylight, and it won’t get dark so early,” Arreaza said.

The government says low water levels in the country’s 18 hydroelectric dams are affecting power output. People regularly have to deal with blackouts and water rationing.

The move, which will effectively lengthen the hours of daylight, will scrap the change Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chavez introduced in 2007 which changed Venezuela’s time compared to its neighbors so that children could wake up for school in daylight.

Caracas, its capital, will revert to four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, the same time zone as Havana and Washington.

Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, is reversing the change so that it is still daylight when energy consumption peaks in the evening.

Maduro declared Monday, April 18, a public-sector holiday. Last week he gave the public sector every Friday off until June 6. Tuesday is Venezuela’s independence day, so public sector workers get a five-day weekend.

The government had previously reduced the public sector workday to six hours.

Maduro also ordered shops and hotels to ration electricity, effectively forcing them to generate their own power for several hours a day.

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