Venezuelan authorities plan to invest US$5bn in power generation over the course of the next two years, electrical energy minister Ali Rodriguez has announced.

“For 2011, we plan to continue with already designed plans, which include repairing generation units currently out of service. We also plan to install a large number of thermal generation units,” the minister said.

The government estimates around 3GW of existing capacity is currently out of service but it also plans to bring online 5GW in thermal capacity by end 2012, Rodriguez said, with new capacity to be added by both state power company Corpoelec and NOC PDVSA.

The new power plants will be concentrated around the capital Caracas, and the country’s Andean region. Further plants will be installed in Zulia state, the country’s most populous, in the hope of making the region energy self-sufficient by 2013.

The new plans are at least in part a response to the country’s 2010 power crisis, with rationing rolled out across the country in to eke out low water reserves at the country’s hydro plants, in particular the giant Guri dam. Rationing was relaxed from June onwards, although disruption continued through to the end of the year.

The government initially planned to invest around 8bn bolivares (US$1.9bn) in power generation and transmission projects over the course of 2011, state news agency AVN reported last September.