One for the skeptics that the electric crisis is not all Chavez’ Government fault

January 13, 2010

Since people are still not clear about whether rain has anything to do with the water problem, here is a six year proof that it is ALL the Chavez’ Government fault:

1) 2003 report by Veneconomia entitled “Guri at the edge of collapse”.

Some highlights:

a) The water level was at 246.71 meters, last report it is at 264 meters, 18 meters above that “critical” level that required no rationing. Why?

b) On an equivalent date (end of the year) in 2003, the water level was a few meters lower as can be seen in this plot published by Corpoelec on Xmas:

c) The report says that experts suggest starting a savings and rationing program in 2001, it is now 2009

d) The article quantifies the delay in investments up to that point: BEFORE THE OIL BOOM.

2) In October 2009, THREE MONTHS AGO,  Caracas Gringo said in no uncertain terms:

“It matters because officials at the Guri hydropower plant/dam operated by Corpoelec subsidiary Edelca report that turbine unit No.2 – which is currently shut down for maintenance – vibrates abnormally when in operation.

The Edelca officials also report that the concrete spillway that funnels water into turbine unit No. 2 has suffered structural damage (“perforations”) about 93 meters above the turbine unit, which make it increasingly difficult to control the volume/flow of water running through the power generation turbine.

However, turbine unit No.2 is only one of seven turbine units currently out of service at Guri, which has 20 turbine units with a combined power generation capacity of 10,000 MW. The other turbine units offline at present include Nos. 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16.

Regional newspaper Correo del Caroni reports that turbine unit No.8 is almost ready to be restarted.

But Edelca officials at Guri complain that Corpoelec’s insistence that the repairs be accelerated is creating a dangerously unsafe situation in the turbine hall.

One attempt to restart turbine unit No. 8 earlier in October had to be suspended when the turbine’s rotation speed red-lined.

Turbine unit No. 16 has unspecified operational/technical problems which Edelca officials decline to disclose, even off the record. But a union official at Guri tells Caracas Gringo that turbine unit No. 16 is also, like turbine unit No. 2, a prime candidate for a catastrophic failure.

The other inoperative turbine units – Nos. 5, 6, 10 and 12 – are in the process of being maintained/repaired and soon will be restarted, according to Edelca and Corpoelec managers.

But union officials at Guri warn that these inoperative units also have unspecified problems which technicians are having problems repairing.”

So, don’t let Chavez fool you, it is not El Niño and it is not the IVth., it is the ignorance, incompetence and negligence of Chavez and his own Government! And its shows day after day

And by canceling the rationing plan imposed yesterday in Caracas and firingthe very improvised Minister of Electricity tonight, the Venezuelan President is showing, once again, the level of incompetence and improvisation in his administration.

(And today Caracas Gringo is out with another article on Guri that is not exactly very positive)

45 Responses to “One for the skeptics that the electric crisis is not all Chavez’ Government fault”

  1. hullywillie Says:

    sell and check coupon code available online

  2. Just found this forum via google. Joyful to connect you. I came here to learn your language . thanks all.

  3. Floyd Looney Says:

    The US never had an unfettered free market, we just wish we did.

  4. Kepler Says:

    “the US had 100+ years of more or less unfettered capitalism (free markets) which allowed them to become prosperous and accumulate capital, before they started to socialize their economy and waste capital in the process.”
    No, they did not. It was free markets for export, not for import, whereas they were doing exactly what china is doing right now: the government was supporting national companies, it was using its ships and marines early on to force its way into markets in the rest of America, in Japan, but only free trade in one direction. The US market was closed to most things they did produce.
    The US was also copying European products and infringing all kinds of laws (there weas patent law already back then) exactly as china is doing now and the government was protecting its companies from any pressure from abroad on that.

    Same thing was done by every developed country. I am not talking about social health system or the like. I am talking about a strong role of the state.

    I live next to Germany, I go very often there, I lived there for many years and I think most people who have an Abitur do know more about where Venezuela is than in many other countries, including the US.
    That is my opinion, you have yours.
    I am not sure what your environment in Germany was, but I find it very strange you only found those people. It is very different from my experience.

    I also met some people in the US comunity close to Heidelberg. I don’t know if your contacts with different locals around Germany was as limited as theirs, but they were really living in their own world, in spite of the ocassional German boy or girlfriend and trip to the Weihnachtsmarkt and to the castles of Bavaria.

    So it is your opinion against mine. But there isother ways of finding out. Look at the PISA tests.
    The US is below the levels of most other Oecd countries. That test shows the level of 15-year old pupils, specially with regards to analysis, not learning things by rot.
    Why do you think is the US below average for the Oecd? Do you think it is just the others “train” for the PISA test?
    We can also watch at ZDF. Just compare the normal ZDF news in the evening with the news you can have in any US channel. The differences are mindblowing.

    The US invested more before in general education and it was doing great.
    It had and still has a great deal of public libraries and that made a lot of difference. As Humboldt was saying: they existed in the tiniest villages in the US whereas people in Spanish America had none. Those libraries were to an extent initiatives of private people, but to a great extent of a local or national government.

    The US is still doing great at university level, but it has its issues now as it depends strongly on the influx of foreign students.

    About taxes and development: I never said that, but I suppose you like saying that because it makes you feel better.

    Anyway, this is way off topic. I leave it here. ciao.

  5. Larry Says:

    almost forgot, it’s funny how you accuse of me of dogmatism of the religious type, when i’m giving you arguments in favor of my position and using reason to defend it. Of course, it’s always easier to use straw mans than to argue.

  6. Larry Says:

    Kepler, I call “socialism” state control because that is the defining feature of the system, i.e., what determines the results you will obtain whenever you try to implement it. It doesn’t matter if I’m George Bush or Hugo Chávez, if I’m nationalizing banks (which both did, btw), then the results will be the same categorically. They will certainly differ qualitatively, because circumstances are different, for instance, the US had 100+ years of more or less unfettered capitalism (free markets) which allowed them to become prosperous and accumulate capital, before they started to socialize their economy and waste capital in the process. Venezuela did not, so the effects will be starker and quicker in Venezuela than in the USA.

    About Germany, I live there and I speak to people. Again, every person with whom I have talked didn’t know where Venezuela is located, some didn’t even know it was in America. So, yes public education is a disgrace everywhere. Only in some places is less disgracefull than others.

    Finally about the developed economies, you see they are rich at the same time you see they pay 50+% in taxes, so you conclude they are rich because of the taxes. I hope you can see the logical fallacy you’re falling into with your argument.

  7. moctavio Says:

    bjohns15: I hope Chavez has to preside over this crisis until every Venezuelan understands how incapable he and his Government are, but if oil stays where it is or goes down anything can happen.

  8. An Interested Observer Says:

    Here’s a theory: ration now, to make sure that they can turn things on full blast come late summer. That way, right before the election, they can “solve the problem” and Hugo can again ride to the rescue. Never mind that, two weeks or two months later, they’ll be back to rationing.

  9. Virginia Says:

    Alstom Hydro (French?) has had multiple contracts with Edelca to refurbish Guri’s turbines, generators and hydro-mechanical equipment since 2005.
    Wonder what happened with that.

  10. bjohns15 Says:

    Gotcha Miguel. Do you think this crisis will lead to Chavez’s departure from power?

  11. moctavio Says:

    LVS, EDC actually ahd quiet a bit of its own Capacity 1,900 MW if my memory saves me right. If I recall half of that was shut down when Chavez came to power and by teh time they nationalized it it was fully operational and was selling electricity to the national grid. (Actually, was it 2,100 MW?)

  12. Isa Says:

    BTW Turo, your calculation indicates there is no problem. It must be my sociology background…

  13. Isa Says:

    Arturo: With all my love and admiration for your ability to adore without thinking, here are 127 pictures showing why Planta Centro will nt be back online In February as your beloved leader has been told:

    Change Planta Centro for Guri, Guri for three hydroelectric pants in Alto Caroni, etc, etc. it is all the same. Same for devaluation BTW. In the case of devaluation you can at least say that a small fraction was due to the world crisis (Sorry, I forgot your beloved leader said we were immnune to that)

  14. moctavio Says:

    Can’t rule a priori, but if you used reason and did not repeat and stayed on topic, you were participating. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, I just want them to reason and not clutter my blog with BS. I have had very civilized discussions with some, others not so much.

  15. bjohns15 Says:

    Oops, It appears I may have been guilty in trolling when criticizing Chavez on other blogs.

  16. island canuck Says:

    A troll, is a troll, is a troll…

    …and just as boring as ever

  17. moctavio Says:

    A troll, is a troll, is a troll…

  18. marc in calgary Says:

    Has it been a week that’s past since Arturo said he wouldn’t return?

  19. GWEH Says:

    PS It’s spelled EXTRAPOLATED. Go back to Mision ESL and don’t come back till you graduate.

  20. GWEH Says:

    Arturo, I hate to break it to you but you will have do your part and refrain from using the bidet from now on.

  21. Arturo Says:

    I based my calculation on the decline from 30/11/09 to the present level yesterday and extraploated it. That’s all.

  22. Roberto Says:

    Arturo, how do you reconcile your math with CORPOELEC’s math?

    According to them, without rationing and with zero rain, the drop dead date is April/May.

  23. moses Says:

    There is a saying in spanish that says: “No gastes polvora en zamuros” which translated means don’t waste gunpowder in buzzards

    For more info of Guri try the following links:



    Just one quote:

    ” It was once the first worldwide on installed capacity, replacing Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP and surpassed by Itaipu HPP. It is in 2009 third place in the world. “

  24. Kepler Says:

    a last one on that: chavismo is clearly a dictatorship. Pero llamemos pan al pan y vino al vino y al gobierno de pacotilla que tenemos en Venezuela chavismo.

  25. Kepler Says:


    First of all: you say “controlled by the state” is socialism. Then it is easy to call a lot of things “socialism”. Unlike what Ronald Reagan said, trying to read a book on socialism (particularly one written actually by one) doesn’t make you a socialist.

    “Abiturient”: Actually, most do, compared to many countries including the USA. You should perhaps move around a bit.
    Germany is far away from the top, but look
    And I mentioned Germany because it is the country most US Americans can locate, apart from France. Then you have Finland or Netherlands.
    Here in Belgium there is a split: Belgium as a whole was in place 13 in the PISA test on science in 2006 whereas Flanders was in posititon 4 and Wallonia under the average. The economic system is the same, the rules are more or less the same, but different institutions with different mentalities.

    Did you find the US? Right, there it is.
    And then there are more countries with stronger intervention by the state and they do pretty well.

    The US has by far most of the best universities on the world, but variance in education is huge. Thanks to the flow of highly-qualified students from abroad it still can be competitive, still.

    Not all “state” is bad, it depends on a lot of conditions. This dogmatism right and left is a little bit like the religious one. No wonder Obama gets called “Hitler” for trying to introduce some form of general health care.

    Also, regarding state intervention (whether bad or good): that is not something new. The US bombed its way to Japan’s markets in the XIX century and the government was helping the US steel industry back then (just an example, I could use a lot about every other industrialized nation back then or now: Belgium, Japan with the meiji, Germany, UK).

    Back to Venezuela: I do hope the political discussion in the future gets more nuances than what we see in some other countries, there are more than two options, more than two colours and a practical
    open discussion about what can work or not is long due.
    I find it would be interesting if Venezuelans could watch even once normal debates in the Netherlands or in Germany or Sweden where a right-winged prime minister discusses with a social democrat, an ecologist, a liberal (European sense) and a commie.

  26. Larry Says:

    Kepler, I might have been dreaming it all, then. Please wake me up. “Not socialism”, come on. I guess it will be “socialism” only when chávez starts public executions by firing squads or start shipping people en masse to “reeducation camps”. The state controls every important sector of the economy, either directly or indirectly. The formal choice in which this control is exerted is irrelevant. As long as the state controls the economy, we have socialism. The fact that the “right” and the “left” do it happily in the industrialized world just means that we are in deeper trouble in a global scale and that politicians like control and power everywhere they can. That hardly disproves or contradicts the assertion that the real cause of the trouble is government involvement in the electricity sector since as long as one can remember. Public education in Germany? Please, I still have to find the first Abiturent que sepa donde queda VEnezuela.

  27. LVS Says:

    Kepler –

    Here is a couple of websites from Panama

    you can also go to

    It shows all the power purchases and planned usage of water –

    They have added capacity for emergency and different water levels as well as they assign a cost of opportunity to the water to ensure maximum efficiency in the use of the hydrology.

    As for Arturo –

    I do not think anyone here is arguing that El Niño may not be part of the problem ( it is not the real cause of our problem) – El Niño is cyclical and with proper planning you can avoid negative consequences – but if you add weather to poor planning and lack of maintenance, voila you find yourself where we are now.

    Even worse there is no short term fix as the shortage is large – rains will help avoid a total disaster – some reductions and blackouts will help – but we will be back here in no time if investment and planning is not considered and given that the majority of the electric sector is govt owned it was the govt’s responsability to plan – ( lets not forget that EDC was just the electric distribution company for CCS – they deliver the energy they produced very little as most of the generation was owned by EDELCA and the other govt entities ) so you cant even blame EDC for shortages.

  28. ktaven Says:

    Thanks Arturo for a splendid display of the ignorance and the laziness that keeps people from thinking. We in this nation are either too damn stupid or lazy to think. We would rather quote something someone says that may be related or not rather than look at the data and situation and think. We form opinions by feeling rather than thinking. Because of this chavez and other incompetent leaders have been able to rule banana republics in South America. El Niño has had an effect but is not the cause. It has revealed the underlying infrastructure and mismanagement problems. But even if we assume El Niño is the problem why in God’s name hasn’t this government done something to prepare? El Niño is not an unpredictable phenomenon like an earthquake. It is a reality that has to be factored in the planning process. That planning process was not important when politics like ALBA, Petrocaribe, referendums, weapons purchases were more important. This crisis is the responsibility of the incredibly incompetent and ignorant imbecile in Miraflores.

  29. Arturo Says:

    At least Kepler and dagoberto address the subject in contrast to Octavio who dos not have enough character to accept criticism and resorts to childish insults.

    Kepler – you are right. The government neglected the electricity industry and did not invest and this has contributed to the current problems. In fact, many of the funds may have been stolen as were the funds for the Caracas BusProject.

    It remains to be seen if the government can solve the situation short term. If not, well, we have to face prolonged power outages by May/June.

  30. dagoberto Says:


    We are not denying that the El Nino is a problem. What we are saying is that El Nino IS a problem but it is NOT THE CAUSE of the rationing.

    We have ALWAYS had periodic El Nino episodes, and a lot more stronger than now. But, for all their faults, the former Venezuelan governments at least had the foresight to keep the electric production well ahead of demand by investing in new, alternate power plants.

    That didn’t happened during Chavez government, despite the huge oil boom.

    And coming back to LAHT article you mention, the Colombians are suffering the SAME El Nino but they are NOT establishing massive, national-wide electric rationing like here in Venezuela… they are just stopping selling abroad their EXCESS production.

    That’s good planning with a lot less resources available.

  31. Kepler Says:

    Arturo, how do you explain a government with the largest oil boom in several decades claims it has increased the electricity generation during its 11 years in power by 19% (nineteen percent)
    and the population growth during that time is, according to that government’s numbers was a bit over 19%?
    Did they not see they had to keep up and, as we know droughts exist at least since we are humans, keep it beyond normal population growth?

    Were there not reports warning about the problems so many years before?
    When did Hugo start to rule? Was it just after 2003? Oh, after 2004? Or was it only now that he can look for reelection? Thus he started ruling only last year?

  32. Arturo Says:

    Yesterday the water level at Guri was 260,30 meters. So it fell by 4 meters in six weeks. Now, if the critical level is 240 meters then without rationing and no rain it could theoretically fall to this level in 30 weeks – that is by end August 2010.

    Read this article from the IHT where the Colombian Energy Minister states quite clearly that the El Niño phenomemon has caused problems in Colombia’s reservoirs. And you, Octavio, try to say that this is an idiotic reason given by the Venezuelan government? It proves just how biased and manipulative you are. Part of the reason for the rationing of energy is this.

    I suggest the rest of you bloggers read this article froim the IHT as well.

    Another point – did you ever consider why there was no electricity rationing in 2003 when Guri fell to 246.71 meters? Venezuela had recently come out of the bosses lock out and oil industry sabotage in February 2003. It was vital to increase industrial production after the disaster caused to the economy (which Octavio supported, may I add) and that’s why there was no rationing in 2003. In addition, demand was somewhat lower and it fortuitously started to rain in May/June to refill thr reservois including Guri, La Mariposa and Camatagua.

  33. dagoberto Says:

    Speed Gibson:

    As far as a I know, EDELCA’s electric engineers working at Guri were quite skilled, at least a decade ago. Also, I’ve not heard about fundamental building problems there.

    It is a lot more probable that Guri maintenance problems are due to the fact that, with Venezuela heavily depending on Guri’s electric output because of lack of alternate power plants, they just don’t have enough chances to take turbines off-line to do proper maintenance. It is very hard to change oil and rotate tires to a car speeding down the highway…

    Add to this scenario a general disdain from the central government, political-selected high management, and a very convoluted bureaucratic process to get dollars to buy spare parts, and you get a pretty close idea of the maintenance problem.

  34. Charly Says:

    The designer of the Guri hydropower project was HARZA from Chicago one of the major hydropower design firm in the world

  35. tony_do_rio Says:

    Hi Speed,

    Try Googling: CETENCO Guri.

    CETENCO is a brazilian contractor that was associated to another brazilian firm, Camargo Corrêa, in that job. In fact, I got a little personal interest in that story.

    Actually, my father was a mechanic at CETENCO at the time (1978). He was about to leave the company, and his bosses made him a counter-offer so that he could work at the Guri construction if he wanted. He did not… Instead, he and the family (I was 13 at the time) went to work with another firm in Algeria. I spent three interesting years there. 🙂

    I believe that most brazilian built dams work fine if maintenance is adequate. We had recent problems with transmission lines from Itaipu, leading to a shut down of the system and a black out of the country! But the reasons are certainly associated with lack of adequate investing and planing for the electrical sector in Brazil. Especially since the guys in power have such an statist frame of mind that they have a lot of trouble in accepting private investing and control over sectors they deem “strategic”. Chavez and Lula are birds of a feather… Dam! (pun intended!)



  36. Speed Gibson Says:

    I googled Guri Dam and find it interesting that none of the sites would say who designed and built the thing? Americans or Europeans or Russkis? I cant think of a single story I have ever read about turbines vibrating or being off line for anything other tan very temporary routine maintenance in the many dams in the US. Whats the matter,,,,didnt the Guri people change the oil and rotate the tires as required?

  37. Kepler Says:

    Panama interactive map: someone mentioned here people can have an idea of how consumption goes in Panama (?) by checking on a map that is daily updated.
    Is it possible to get a link to it?

  38. Kepler Says:

    I am not a socialist, at least by European standards I am centre-right and yet I have to say: it is not socialism, not state socialism or any other form, even if Hugo and his people dress in red and badly quote Marx.
    It is useful to read about socialism also from socialists and commies, even if one is not one.

    Hugo may be talking a lot about socialism, but this is just more banana republic military governance in a country addict to oil.

    As for “statism”: there has been a huge amount of it, for bad and good, in the US, Europe, Japan and in many cases even the far-right would not consider many of the governments that practiced it socialist at all.

    Think steel industry, think agriculture, think the way the state pursued foreign trade by forcing to free trade but only in one direction.
    But also think about good education in Germany and Japan for all, in rural areas and cities.

    In Venezuela what we have is just a caimanera, some big thieves and some madmen crazy for power, the ideological part is rather fluffy, on both sides.

  39. An Interested Observer Says:

    I was confused that the water level could be rising at Guri when I was under the impression that rains had been low the last few years. Until – I read that 30% (I think – there are 20 turbines installed at Guri, right?) not working. If you cut water flow through the dam by 30% (as it seems it hasn’t reached a level where they have been forced to allow water to flow through the spillway instead of the turbines), then it makes sense that water level would rise. But now they have plenty of water, though nothing useful to do with it.

    It’s like the FIEM/FEM fiasco, only in reverse. Tragic.

  40. Larry Says:

    it is the ignorance, incompetence and negligence

    …It is socialism, which is the root cause of all three things you attribute the electricity crisis to. Curiously (sarcasm), the “opposition” doesn’t propose anything that could be qualified as different from what you already have: purported statist solutions.

  41. island canuck Says:


    Chavez announces at midnite that the rationing in Caracas will stop because they are giving “undesired effects”.

    He also asked for the resignation of the Energy Minister, Angel Rodríguez (like it’s his fault.

    I can only think that the problem is going to get much worse very fast.
    Or maybe his “cloud seeding” is beginning to work?

    The political price of cutting off the power to Caracas is just too much for him to pay.

    Cuts will continue in the rest of the country.

  42. dagoberto Says:

    Indeed, Chavez government has created TWO electrical crises, not one. As the CORPOELEC document states:

    We have a 1) POWER crisis and a 2) ENERGY crisis.

    The POWER crisis happens when the electric demand surpass the production capacity at a given time, and it is responsible of the frequent blackouts in places like Merida. It has nothing to do with el Nino because it is caused by a lack of enough electricity generation plants.

    On the other hand, the ENERGY crisis is a LOT MORE SERIOUS. If you have a thermoelectric power plant, an ENERGY crisis arises when you RUN OUT OF FUEL. In the case of Guri, we are running out of WATER (the equivalent of fuel for an hydroelectric plant).

    El Nino AGGRAVATES the ENERGY crisis but it is NOT the cause: The root cause is that the government has not built enough ALTERNATE electricity generation plants, and therefore we are taking more water out of the Guri lake that the Caroni river is putting in: We are running out of “fuel” and there is no way to buy more.

    This is the reason of the rationing being also during the nights, when there is little electricity demand: We are not really saving electricity, we are saving Guri’s water.

    Like the sudden devaluation of the Bolivar this week, the rationing is a painful but mandatory measure that must be taken because Chavez government mismanagement has given us no other choice.

    And like the devaluation, rationing may be too little, too late…

  43. island canuck Says:

    Caracas Gringo has another heart stopping report this morning.

    If what he says is true then I fear for us all.

    If the lights go out for long stretches of time the criminals are going to take over – and I not talking about the criminals who have already taken over.

  44. Kepler Says:

    “chávez dice: Los que no son de caracas que se jooooooodan!”
    This is the message the opposition should be saying now and not in bloody Globovision, they should be distributing those flyers on the buses heading towards Maturín (500000 inhabitants), towards Guacara (150000 inhabitants), towards the urban centres outside the big three or four major cities, towards the secondary urban centres where 65% of the population lives.

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