Progress Continues in Restoring Iraqi Electricity
By Mitch Frazier
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sep. 7, 2004 Rusted access panels rattle as a rehabilitated electricity generator in a northern suburb here belched hot exhaust into the Iraq sky for the first time in years.
A revamped 17-megawatt generator came on line north of Baghdad on Sept. 6, producing enough electricity to fuel 51,000 Iraqi homes. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The revamped 17-megawatt generator came on line in the early morning Sept. 6, producing enough electricity to fuel 51,000 Iraqi homes.
"This is a very important step in overcoming the power shortage across the country," said Raad Shalal, a senior Iraq Ministry of Electricity official. "This will help us reach our goal of increasing power across the country."
Electricity production in the country averages about 5,300 megawatts, a total that services an estimated 15.9 million Iraqi homes and exceeds the pre-war level of 4,400 megawatts.
"We continue to work in partnership with the Ministry of Electricity and the Iraqi people to bring the country more electricity," said Maj. Erik Stor, the operations officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Restore Iraqi Electricity Directorate. "We know how important electricity is to the safety and security of the Iraqi people, and we continue to work on their behalf with the ministry to bring the country additional electricity."
Since Saddam Hussein's ouster, much of has been made of the availability of less power in the capital city compared to that of pre-war levels; however, that comparison of service is a poor indicator of success, Stor said.
"It is important to remember that Baghdad was one of few cities across this nation that had electrical service prior to the regime change," he said. "Within months of freeing the Iraqi people from the Saddam rule, power was redistributed to help build a fair and equitable national power system for Iraq and its future."
Despite the addition of power to the country's national grid, the demand for electricity in Iraq continues to grow, according to a fact sheet published by the Iraq Ministry of Electricity.
"With more than half a million new jobs created, new industries and new factories coming on line and with the sale of thousands of washing machines and air conditioners, Iraq has experienced a rapid increase in electricity demand," the fact sheet reads. "The increase in demand is a good sign of a thriving economy emerging from three decades of isolation."
Since beginning its work in the country nearly a year ago, the Corps of Engineers has added an additional 1,597 megawatts to the Iraqi national grid.
(Mitch Frazier is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division.)