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Iraq's power supply sinks to record low: US general
by repost
Wednesday Jan 12th, 2005 1:16 PM
BAGHDAD, Jan 12 (AFP) - Iraq's national electricity supply has fallen well below its level of before the 2003 invasion, a US army commander told reporters Wednesday.

Power plants now generate only 3,500-3,600 megawatts daily, far less than the 4,400 megawatts of electricity under Saddam Hussein's rule on the eve of the invasion, said Major General Thomas Bostwick, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The anemic electricity supply has fallen since mid-December when Bostwick said power generation was at 4,100 megawatts.

Bostwick blamed the shortfall on sabotage and the deterioriation of Iraq's electricity infrastructure under Saddam's rule.

Through October, power generation was at 5,600 megawatts, but the electricity supply shrunk when Electricity Minister Ayad Al-Samarrai opted to carry out large-scale repairs to the aging network that month, Bostwick said.

Bostwick compared Iraq's electricity infrastructure to an old car. "You can choose to drive it until it breaks, but when it breaks, there will be multiple problems."

The US and Iraqi authorities hope the repairs will be completed before June when the temperatures soar, he said.

Blackouts in the southern port of Basra in August 2003 provoked street riots.

Bostwick described the various factors that had affected Iraq's power supply.

About 1,000 megawatts of power has been lost due to scheduled infrastructure maintenance, another 1,400 megawatts has been lost due to unexpected problems with aging equipment and another 600 megawatts was lost to sabotage, primarily attacks on fuel supplies.

Most of the country has less than three hours of power per day.

The high point for power supply in Iraq was 1990 when the country generated 9,000 megawatts. But power generation faltered with the 1991 Gulf War and the ensuing decade of sanctions after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.

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