March 29, 2016 / 2:48 PM / 2 years ago

Colombia will decide soon whether to ration energy due to drought

BOGOTA, March 29 (Reuters) - Colombia’s government will decide within a week whether to declare energy rationing amid a serious drought, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday, as the country continues to battle the fallout from El Nino.

Around 70 percent of the country’s energy is generated at hydroelectric plants, which have suffered damage due to low water levels at reservoirs as the El Nino weather pattern cuts rainfall.

Santos has asked Colombians to reduce their daily energy consumption by at least 5 percent in a bid to avoid enforced outages. The goal has been met sporadically over the last few weeks.

“This week will be fundamental,” Santos said in his daily presentation of the energy savings figures. “In a week or less we will give a definitive result about whether there will be cuts or not.”

The mines and energy minister, Tomas Gonzalez, resigned his post earlier this month amid criticism the government waited too long to adopt measures to curb energy use.

Energy rationing could cause a 0.3 percent fall in economic growth this year, according to an analysis by Bancolombia. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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