23 October 2009 - The Venezuelan government announced a plan Thursday to reduce 20 percent of the country's electricity consumption, as part of its measures to tackle a nationwide energy shortage.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said this plan, which required to save and use energy efficiently, would also apply to governmental organizations.

For example, the president's office, the Miraflores Palace, would cut 50 percent of its energy consumption, he said.

The electricity shortage in the country has caused different groups to protest.

Chavez called on Venezuelans to turn off the lights and not to leave the TV or other electrical devices on when they were not using them. In addition, he urged factories and companies to use less electricity.

The president also decreed the creation of a new electricity ministry and a strategic commission to handle the country's electricity sector.

The new ministry would ban the import of products that are of low energy efficiency and use excessive amounts of electricity. Moreover, the country would distribute 50 million new energy-saving light bulbs.

A lack of rainfall to replenish the headwaters of the Caroni River in Venezuela has led to a grave situation that has affected the country's electricity supply. Reservoirs on this river generate 70 percent of the county's electricity.