After 3-months of darkness, EDL switches on the light
Electricite du Liban announced Friday that electricity production will start improving as of Monday in most Lebanese areas after the technical teams nearly completed maintenance work on some of the power plants.
The state-run firm attributed the power failure to the three-month strike by EDL’s part-time workers as it crippled production and delayed all maintenance work on most power plants. However, EDL suggested that power supply would not be back to normal in the near future due to the poor resources and shortage of technical staff at its disposal.
EDL stressed that the demand for electricity has exceeded 2,800 megawatts although the current capacity stands at less than 1,500 MW. The company reiterated that the rise in consumption is mainly due to electricity theft in some regions and illegal connections on the high voltage lines.
Electricity theft represents close to 30 percent of EDL’s losses; the remaining losses are the result of high prices of fuel oil in the international market.
“As far as electricity bill collections, EDL assures the citizens that it is in the process of studying a new mechanism to deliver the bills but will make sure that the collections will not add further burdens on the Lebanese. We will soon announce the measures for bill collection,” EDL said in a statement.
Most Lebanese regions have plunged into total darkness in the past three months and the dependence on private generators has grown sharply.
Citizens were concerned that EDL may collect bills for the last three to four months in one go.
Experts say that even if all the power plants were repaired, most Lebanese regions will still experience power rationing from 10 to 12 hours a day. Lebanon is expected to receive two electricity barges in two months to make up for the shortage of power supply. But these barges are only capable of producing 270 MW of electricity. Lebanon has not yet embarked on a plan to build more power plants to reduce electricity rationing.
The government is reluctant for the time being to allocate additional funds for the construction of power plants as this would cause the budget deficit to rise to alarming levels.
Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil submitted a plan two years ago to increase electricity production to 4,000 MW over the next five years at a cost of $4.5 billion. However, it seems that this bold plan will not materialize amid the volatile situation in the region and the standoff between Lebanese politicians. Meanwhile, EDL’s part-time workers swarmed the offices of the three service providers Friday to collect their late salaries.
The companies said that they were struggling to cope with the large number of part-timers who were all eager to collect their wages. The service providers said most of the part-timers have signed the contracts with them after they dropped the probationary period clause in the contracts.