Electricity restored in Lebanon, as army provides emergency fuel

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon’s national electricity grid was re-commissioned on Sunday after the military provided emergency fuel supplies ...

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon’s national electricity grid was re-commissioned on Sunday after the military provided emergency fuel supplies to the government, temporarily alleviating a one-day blackout that was a reminder of the country’s economic collapse .

The two main power plants, chronically short of fuel, were providing only a few hours of electricity a day before Saturday, when they ran out of fuel and completely shut down.

Energy minister Walid Fayyad said in a statement that the military had supplied fuel from its reserves to the Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants, and that the grid had resumed “normal” operation – suggesting that he would resume producing a few hours of power a day.

Even so, emergency supplies should only last a few days. Mr Fayyad said Lebanon’s central bank had freed up $ 100 million to be used to import fuel, which would help boost electricity production by the end of the month.

He thanked the Minister of Defense, the army commander and the directors of Electricité du Liban, the national energy company, for their “rapid response to reconnecting the electricity grid”.

Saturday’s blackout had little immediate effect on the lives of most Lebanese, who have grown accustomed to blackouts and fuel shortages as the country suffers. one of the most serious economic crises in recent history. The government has struggled to import fuel as the national currency has lost 90 percent of its value over the past two years. The prices of many products have tripled.

The crisis presented an opportunity for Iran, which sent diesel to Lebanon via the militant group Hezbollah, in defiance of US economic sanctions on the purchase of Iranian oil. Visiting Lebanon last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Iran was ready to build two new power plants in Beirut and southern Lebanon which would produce 100 megawatts, or the equivalent of a third of the country’s electricity demand.

The Lebanese who can afford it rely on private generators for electricity, but many also give it up, because costs have skyrocketed.

Abdul Hadi al-Sabii, a 70-year-old taxi driver in south Beirut, lives with his sister, who decided to shut down her generator after a bill that amounted to 1.8 million Lebanese pounds, or around 100 $, depending on the black- market exchange rate. They have given up on meat and refrigerated foods, living mainly on lentils and grains, and he charges his cell phone with his car battery.

“We have forgotten what electricity means,” he said.

Fatima Baydoun, 50, a mother of three in Beirut, said her family could not afford a generator because her husband, a security guard, had been out of work for over a year. Without government-supplied electricity, his washing machine stopped working and their taps ran dry because the water pump was on.

“We try to sleep as early as possible,” she said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Electricity restored in Lebanon, as army provides emergency fuel
Electricity restored in Lebanon, as army provides emergency fuel
Newsrust - US Top News
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