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Iraq Plans To Alleviate Electricity Shortages By Summer

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government says it will boost power capacity by more than one-third by the summer and will fully meet consumer demands for electricity in three years, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Electricity Ministry spokesman Musaab al-Mudarris told RFI on March 9 that projects currently under construction, including a new transmission line from Iran, will add more than 2,500 megawatts (MW) to Iraq's national grid by May.

Mudarris said Iraq currently produces around 6,000 MW daily and imports another 1,000 MW from neighboring countries. Daily demand is some 12,000 MW, a total that Mudarris said will be reached when Iraq achieves energy self-sufficiency in 2013-2014.

Mudarris said the ministry plans to ration consumption by disconnecting government offices from the national grid. He said that will save about 20 percent of the total, which will be redistributed to the public.

Ministries and other government departments will rely on diesel generators to meet much of their energy requirements.

Mudarris said that in February, 400 officials from Iraq and other countries met in Istanbul to discuss the ministry's $80 billlion, 20-year energy plan, which will increase output to some 28,000 MW.

He said that to fulfill the plan Iraq will have to allocate some $4 billion a year to build new power plants, maintain transmission lines, and expand the distribution network.

Iraq is reportedly preparing to issue a tender for a $388.5 million power plant.

Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said on March 8 that the Council of Ministers has approved a plan to issue a tender for the plant in Nineveh Province, north of Baghdad.