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Hugo Chavez
President Hugo Chavez said Friday that his Cuba-inspired light bulb giveaway program, which aims to improve energy efficiency, will mean big energy savings for his oil-rich nation.

"They'll say Chavez has gone crazy " that he's going around giving out light bulbs," Chavez said in a televised speech.

But Chavez claimed that Venezuela consumes more electricity per person than any other South American nation and that the new bulbs would allow the country to save 2,000 megawatts of electricity, roughly equal to about 12.7 percent of domestic energy demand.

Chavez has said that the government plans to distribute 52 million energy-saving light bulbs to Venezuelans under its "Mission Energy Revolution" " part of a new energy conservation policy under way in one of the world's top oil producers.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a close friend and mentor of Chavez, earlier began distributing energy-saving light bulbs in order to reduce electricity consumption on the communist island. Cuba's electricity grid has faced problems in recent years and blackouts have been common.

Chavez regularly warns Venezuelans that even though their country sits atop some of the world's biggest crude deposits, oil will one day run out and the country must turn to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

He has said the second phase of his "energy revolution" will involve the construction of micro-electricity plants to help supply energy to hospitals, food storage facilities and small towns during emergencies.

Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and has the largest proven oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere.

Source: International Herald Tribune


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