Lightbulb Fiasco

bombillos-incandescentesWay back in 2006, the comandante eterno launched a brand new mission: Energy Revolution (Misión Revolución Energética), which intended to promote “the efficient and rational use of electricity”.

Even if the plan also included developing alternative sources of energy in the long term (and unsurprisingly that’s hasn’t gone well so far), its main priority was to replace traditional lightbulbs with energy-saving (ahorradores) ones in houselholds, to the point it had its own section in the MinCI (Communication & Information Ministry) website.

Last week, Electricity Minister Jesse Chacon announced that those energy-saving lightbulbs will be replaced with new LED models, after finding out they contained mercury that could be harmful to the enviroment and to people.

The goverment installed a large amount of these bulbs over the course of eight years, which came here from China thanks to the Cuba-Venezuela agreement. In 2009, Venezuela and Vietnam agreed to open a factory in Paraguana (Falcon State) to produce those energy-saving bulbs. Even if the Vietven factory was finally opened years later, and others followed, their future is up in the air as the new LED bulbs will come… you guess it… from China.

Even if experts warned for years the possible negative effects those energy-saving lightbulbs could cause, the government kept on giving them away (there were free of charge). Matter of fact, they even sent a lot of them abroad, to places like Ecuador and Honduras.

In the end, both the population and the enviroment were placed at risk, millions were spent without any accountability at all and it’s even hard to say if this specific policy caused some impact, given that blackouts are still going on as usual. Sometimes where one word can resume it all: fiasco.

Sadly, it’s very unlikely that someone will be held liable for this huge failure, at least here in Venezuela.