Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit announced Wednesday a package of power saving measures as a long-standing energy shortage in the country was further aggreviated when drought hit vital hydroelectric dams.
"The water level in hydroelectric power plants has reached the lowest level in 10 years because rainfall was under the average level," Ecevit said in a circular. "The balance between energy supply and demand has reached a critical point."
Ecevit said that in order to evade power cuts, energy should not be used unnecessarily and "saving should start in the public sector."
"This saving campaign should set an example for the private sector and all citizens," he added.
The circular ordered public offices to re-arrange working hours in order to benefit from a maximum of daylight, to use power-saving light bulbs and turn off unneeded lights.
Public offices were also ordered not to use natural gas for heating unless essential, to bring down security illumination to a minimum and to cut off decorative illumination.
A watchdog commission has been established to monitor the implementation of the measures, the circular said.
In a separate statement, Ecevit said that the government had submitted for the president's approval a decree outlining measures aimed at increasing power production.
Water levels in the three main dams on the Euphrates in southeast Turkey have dropped significantly in recent months due to drought, forcing cutbacks in power production.
The water level in Ataturk dam, Turkey's biggest and the sixth biggest in the world, has fallen to 526.6 meters (1,738 feet), only 60 centimeters above the minimum level at which power production is possible, said a senior energy official, who requested anonimity.
The dam, which produces 20 percent of Turkey's hydroelectric energy, was operating on full capacity only one hour a day.
Similarly, the water level in the Keban dam, also on the Euphrates, was only four meters above the critical level.
The power production in the Ataturk and Keban dams, along with two other dams in the area, amounts to some 42 percent of Turkey's hydroelectric power production and some 13 percent of its total power production, according to official figures.
"Unfortunately in hydroelectric power production we depend totally on nature. The rains in November will indicate how the winter will pass," the official said.
The drought has added to an already serious power shortage in Turkey owing to the country's growing energy needs and its failure to make adequate investments in the energy sector.
Turkey, which consumes 120 billion kWh of electricity per year, may face a shortage of some 10 billion kWh by the year-end, the undersecretary of the energy ministry, Yurdakul Yigitguden, said in a recent interview.
Turkey's electricity demands will climb to 290 billion kWh in 2010 and to 547 billion kWh in 2020, requring an average investment of up to five billion dollars every year, according to the energy ministry. – (AFP)
©Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )