Reforming Venezuela’s electricity sector

Options and priorities for rebuilding a collapsed system
Research paper Updated 19 August 2022 Published 17 December 2021 ISBN: 978 1 7413 506 5
A woman in a dark room where a generator is providing power and dim light

In Venezuela, as around the world, the provision of reliable and affordable electric power is essential for the availability of vital humanitarian services such as healthcare and water supply, as well as enabling public transport, education services and the smooth functioning of the economy.

Decisions dating back two decades have brought about a dramatic decline in the generating capacity and reliability of the Venezuelan electricity system. Progressively worse blackouts since 2010 culminated in a week-long outage in early 2019. Load-shedding has been used to ration power supplies, further damaging infrastructure.

This research paper examines the root causes of the power crisis in Venezuela in the context of the steady collapse of the state in the country, to provide a series of recommendations concerning rebuilding versus replacing existing infrastructure and priorities in Venezuela’s critical energy transition. It urges the engagement of principal stakeholders in a broad, transparent dialogue to launch the reform of the electricity sector in distinct, coordinated phases. Given political will, primacy should be given to meeting the country’s acute humanitarian needs, with an ongoing focus on sustainable, locally based generation solutions.