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Generator Brings Electricity to 156,000 More Iraqi Homes

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 16, 2004 – For the third time in two weeks, Iraqi and U.S. engineers have brought more electricity to the people of Iraq by commissioning a power plant.

The 52-megawatt generator at the Khor Az Zubayr Power Plant, about 40 kilometers south of Basrah, fired for the first time Aug. 15, bringing enough power on line to service 156,000 Iraqi homes.

"This is a very important step in overcoming the power shortage across the country," said Raad Shalal, a senior official in Iraq's electricity ministry. "This will help us reach our goal of increasing power for the country."

Electricity production in the country averages about 5,000 megawatts, a total that exceeds pre-war levels and services an estimated 15 million Iraqi homes, officials said.

"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 regime was toppled, much of the news in Baghdad has focused on the availability of less power in the capital city, a focus Stor said is misleading.

"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, he added, 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 an electricity ministry fact sheet.

"With more than half a million new jobs created, new industries and new factories coming on lin,e and with the sale of thousands of home appliances such as 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."

Increasing available electricity is slated to continue throughout August, as additional generators are expected to come on line throughout the month and bring more electricity to the people of Iraq, officials said. Since beginning its work in the country nearly a year ago, the Corps of Engineers has added 1,500 megawatts to the Iraqi national grid, they added.

(Courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)

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