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Chavez announces electricity emergency in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will impose stiff penalties on consumers who use extra electricity.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will impose stiff penalties on consumers who use extra electricity.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Hugo Chavez says people who use more electricity will face much higher bills
  • People in Venezuela who reduce their consumption will see their bills cut
  • State of emergency will exist for 60 days, Chavez said
  • Experts warn Venezuela could face a complete electric collapse
RELATED TOPICS
  • Venezuela
  • Hugo Chavez

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has declared a state of emergency for the South American nation's electricity supply and announced a series of billing sanctions and rewards based on a customer's energy use.

The late-night declaration Monday stipulates that consumers who increase usage by 10 percent will pay an additional 100 percent on their monthly bill and those whose use goes up by 20 percent will pay an additional 200 percent.

Similarly, he said, consumers who cut use between 10 percent and 20 percent will get a 25 percent discount on their bill. Those who cut consumption by more than 20 percent will get a 50 percent discount on their bill, Chavez said in a nationally broadcast message around midnight Monday.

The state of emergency will exist for 60 days, Chavez said.

Venezuela's critical electricity shortages have created rolling blackouts in some areas.

Chavez blames a long drought that has reduced energy production at the country's main hydroelectric dam, while others say the real problem is a lack of investment in energy infrastructure.

Regardless of the reason for the electricity shortages, experts warn that Venezuela faces a complete electric collapse if something isn't done soon.