Second New Generator Comes On Line at North Baghdad Power Station
By Mitch Frazier
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 19, 2004 For the second time in two days, Iraqi and U.S. engineers have commissioned a new generator near the capital city.
The commissioning of the 96-megawatt generator marks the largest two-day increase in electricity generation since the U.S.-led reconstruction effort began here last year. Oct. 18, U.S. and Iraqi engineers commissioned a similar 96-megawatt generator at the plant. The addition of the two generators puts enough electricity on the Iraq National Power Grid to service 576,000 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 for the country."
Electricity production in the country hovers near 5,300 megawatts, a level that far surpasses the pre-war level of 4,400, and services an estimated 15.9 million Iraqi homes.
The addition of the two generators at the north Baghdad plant comes at a time when many electricity stations across the country are being transferred back to the Interim Iraqi Government's Ministry of Electricity.
Inventory of the spare parts, hours of classroom instruction and final inspections by senior officials have already been completed at 14 electrical stations across the country and transferred back to the Ministry of Electricity. The transfers complete an effort at the sites that put 1,588 megawatts on the national grid and continue to bring electricity to 4.7 million Iraqi homes.
The generators at the north Baghdad plant are slated for completion by the end of October. Two additional power stations are slated for transfer to the ministry in October and November, returning an additional 604 megawatts of generation capacity. The Corps' team of civilian and military engineers and their Iraqi counterparts has resurrected more than 20 electricity plants across the country from their pre-war state of disrepair into the cornerstone of the effort to revamp Iraq's aging infrastructure.
In a country where few were allowed to act independently and make decisions on operations and maintenance, training has been an ongoing issue for the electricity reconstruction effort. More than 40 hours of classroom instruction and side-by-side operation in the plant is part of the process to bring Iraqi operators to a better understanding of the controls and equipment.
Computer controls, scheduled outages for maintenance, and safety systems were all new to the employees, who had not seen new electricity generators for more than a decade.
"Our job here isn't just to bring Iraq more electricity, it is to help the Iraqi people create a fair and equitable system that will last for years to come," Stor said. "It's about new and rehabilitated generators, spare parts, training; it's about giving them a solid foundation to build from after we leave."
The effort to increase electricity availability by U.S. and Iraqi engineers has added 1,813 megawatts to the national grid and has pumped more than $1 billion into the international economy.
While creation and maintenance of the generation and distribution system continues, Stor said the future of Iraq looks brighter every day as more electricity generators come on line to service the country. "This is the most electricity on the national grid Iraq has seen for more than a decade," he said. "As the ministry and the multinational team continue to bring more generation sites on line, the people of Iraq will have more electricity."
Despite the addition of power to the country's national grid, the demand for electricity in Iraq continues to grow. "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," according to a fact sheet published by the Iraq Ministry of Electricity. "The increase in demand is a good sign of a thriving economy emerging from three decades of isolation."
(Mitch Frazier is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division.)