Chile plans to extend summer time in an attempt to alleviate an energy-squeeze brought about by unusually dry weather.

The country relies heavily on hydroelectric power and, concerned about a possible energy shortage, the government announced on Monday it would turn back the clock in order to make better use of sunlight during the day.

Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Chile's interior minister, said the country would move clocks an hour back on the first Saturday of May and an hour ahead on the third Saturday of August each year.

Chile relies heavily on hydroelectric power to meet energy needs and a drought has meant electricity generators must rely on costly fuel-driven plants.

The government had already postponed the time change earlier this month by three weeks over concerns about an energy shortage.

But the energy squeeze is not expected to affect the mining industry in the world's larges copper producer, as the industry, which is concentrated in northern Chile, uses electricity generated primarily with fuel-driven plants.

It is the central grid, which supplies power to more than 90 per cent of the population, that is most likely to be hit by the energy squeeze because of its reliance on hydro power.

Source: Agencies