Iraqi electricity bills jump in power saving move

* Iraq doubles price of electricity

* Power cuts chief complaint of Iraqis

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD, June 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Iraqis on Tuesday began
receiving electricity bills containing 100 percent tariff
increases following a decision in April aimed at encouraging
consumers to economise and help tackle crippling power cuts.

Electricity demand has risen since the 2003 U.S. invasion of
Iraq, but the national grid still only supplies a few hours of
power per day, a cause of discontent in a country that sits atop
some of the world’s biggest oil reserves.

The Electricity Ministry said that from June 1 it would
issue bills for the previous two months based on a new scale by
which the price of a kilowatt/hour increases according to
consumer usage.

“The price will be cumulative, so in order to avoid a high
bill the consumer should decrease his consumption,” said Deputy
Electricity Minister Raad al-Haris.

The price has doubled from 10 to 20 Iraqi dinars per
kilowatt/hour for the first 1000 kWh, or to the equivalent of
less than $0.02.

The rumble of expensive diesel generators has become a
fixture of daily life, and observers say failure to quickly fix
supplies has been a major factor in the erosion of public
support for the U.S. occupation and the Iraqi government.

Consumers will pay 50 dinars per kWh for between 1000 and
2000 kWh, 80 dinars for between 2000 and 3000 kwh, 100 dinars
for up to 4000 kWh and 135 dinars for consumption beyond 4000
kWh.

“It will increase the fees but it will not increase the
power supply,” disgruntled Iraqi Saja Nazar, a civil servant,
said on Tuesday in Baghdad. “It will place a new burden on us.
Where will we get the money from?”

Greater purchasing power in Iraq since 2003 has brought
greater demand for electricity, straining Iraq’s current
production of 9,000 megawatts. The Electricity Ministry
estimates demand at 12,000 megawatts.

In 2008, Iraq agreed a multi-billion dollar deal with
Siemens (SIEGn.DE: ) for 16 gas turbines and a deal with General
Electric (GE.N: ) for 56 turbines.

They have the potential to boost the capacity of the power
grid by a further 11,000 megawatts.

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(Editing by Matt Robinson and Keiron Henderson)

Iraqi electricity bills jump in power saving move