Venezuela's Maduro ends power rationing as drought eases

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela as of Monday will end an electricity rationing program launched in April in response to a severe drought that crimped the operations of the OPEC nation's hydroelectric generators, President Nicolas Maduro on Friday. Maduro's government had rationed electricity in the provinces, cut the work week for public employees to two days per week, and canceled school on Fridays to save power as the country's massive Guri dam dried up. "As of Monday we can say that the power administration plan will stop and electrical service will function normally throughout the country," Maduro said in a televised broadcast. "Today we can say that Guri has recovered and we have the conditions under which power service can function normally." Heavily subsidized electricity has spurred one of the region's highest rates of power consumption and left the state-run utilities with limited revenue. Opposition critics say the government has failed to invest in generation and transmission facilities, leaving the system prone to blackouts and unable to maintain service during periods of limited rainfall. Maduro's government often blames power problems on sabotage by opposition leaders seeking to destabilize his government. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sandra Maler)