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Democracy Sparks Iraq's Need for More Electricity

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2005 – Technicians in Iraq are working hard to meet demands for more electricity to power air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances, a senior American military officer said in Baghdad Feb. 26.

The Iraqi government is making every effort to perform needed maintenance on electric-power plants so that they'll be ready for anticipated summer power demands, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Bostick told reporters at a press briefing.

In early 2003, pre-war Iraqi electric-power generation was at about 4,400 megawatts, which was roughly sufficient to meet the population's need for about 5,000 megawatts at that time, noted Bostick, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Gulf region.

But in 1991, he said, Iraqi power plants were producing 9,000 megawatts of electricity. Bostick attributed the decline in power generation between 1991 and 2003 to "a lack of maintenance" and spare parts.

Iraqi electric-power generation had sharply declined during the early phases of Operation Iraq Freedom, but "today, we're at 4,000 megawatts," Bostick reported.

To further boost electricity production, Bostick said, 10 Iraqi power plants are to be shut down for long-overdue maintenance. After repair, he said, those plants should produce an additional 1,300 megawatts of electricity, or more.

"The good news is that maintenance is occurring now," Bostick said, noting that 15 other refurbished Iraqi plants will continue to churn out electricity.

Bostick observed that the government of now-deposed dictator Saddam Hussein routinely neglected to perform preventive maintenance on the country's electric-power infrastructure. Consequently, he said, much of the country's power grid fell into disrepair.

For example, Bostick noted, Iraq's Haditha Dam hydroelectric plant on the Euphrates River hadn't been renovated since 1985.

"That kind of lack of maintenance is what had caused that steady decline" of Iraqi electric power generation, Bostick pointed out. Iraqi power plant managers today "are ecstatic that they have the opportunity now to do maintenance," he said.

Iraq's nationwide electric-power requirement today is around 8,000 megawatts, Bostick observed, noting, "That's the result of freedom and democracy."

The Iraqis, he explained, "are buying refrigerators, air conditioners, heaters, microwaves and (other) things that demand tremendous amounts of electricity."

U.S., coalition and Iraqi infrastructure experts are aware of Iraq's increased need for electricity, Bostick noted, and are "working as quickly as we can to move the reconstruction effort as fast as possible, keeping in mind that the hot summer months are coming."

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division

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