Government administrator Kaladhar Deuja said Wednesday students occupied the Nepal Electricity Authority’s transmission office at Mahendranagar, about 375 miles (600 kilometers) west of the Nepalese capital, Katmandu, on Monday, and forced engineers to switch off the power then locked the offices.
Officials have not returned for fear the students will stage more protests.
Businesses and schools have had to close because of the protest shutdown, Deuja said. Hospitals were still open but had to rely on their own generators, if they have them, he said.
For months consumers faced several hours per day of organized blackouts to conserve energy, then the state-run Nepal Electrical Authority announced Monday they would be increased to 12 hours per day.
Nepal produces only about half the electricity it needs, in part because of unusually low levels this year in reservoirs that feed the country’s hydroelectric plants. The amount of power that Nepal imports from neighboring India is not enough to make up the shortfall.
Nepal’s communist-led government has announced an "electricity emergency" and said it will set up diesel-operated power plants early next year to help meet demand.
A decade-long communist insurgency that ended in 2006 hampered development work in Nepal, including the building of new power plants.