Solar power for Venezuela?

Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Venezuela announced plans to invest more than $6 million in solar power as the government declares a formal electricity emergency.

Venezuela's Foundation for the Development of Electric Service announced plans to invest $6.2 million to install 1,531 photovoltaic systems throughout the country.

Jesus Marerro, the national director of the so-called Sewing Light program, said the plans include installations on schools, community centers and water purification centers, Venezuela's El Universal newspaper reports.

The plans come as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed a formal electricity emergency as the country struggles with rolling blackouts.

Chavez said during his radio program that pervasive drought was causing problems for his country, which relies on hydropower for much of its energy needs, the BBC reports.

"The truth is, it's an emergency," he said.

Consumers during the emergency face stiff penalties if they use more than 500 kilowatt-hours per month. Discounts are available for low-energy consumers.

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