BEIRUT: Lebanon could face harsher electricity cuts this summer if the government fails to revise a decision to reduce allocations to state-owned Electricite du Liban, a senior EDL official said Friday.
“If we follow the instruction of the Cabinet that EDL should not exceed the LL2.869 trillion ceiling then we will be forced to increase power rationing to at least 14 hours a day and we may also increase the cuts to the capital Beirut,” the official told The Daily Star.
She added that the presence of 1.3 million Syrian refugees has put more pressure on the power plants which currently produce 1,800 MW.
“All of our plants are ready to supply electricity if the allocations are increased to LL3.96 trillion. But if the subsidy amount remains unchanged then EDL will have to increase rationing,” the official argued.
Most of the government subsidy goes to cover the cost of fuel and gas oil which runs most of the country’s power plants.
But Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil told a news conference that the 2014 draft budget had allocated LL3.56 trillion to EDL and this should allow the company to supply electricity to consumers without the need to make further rationing.
However, the EDL official said the company had not yet received any official letter from Cabinet about the new allocations.
“Once we receive an official notification from the Cabinet then we will revise our plans to increase rationing. But for the time being, we will apply the new rationing plan based on the previous letter we received from the Cabinet,” the official said.
She added that EDL deficit may widen further once the two or three new plants start producing electricity at the end of this year.
“If we increase production then we have to buy more fuel and gas oil. This means the Finance Ministry has to increase allocations for the company,” the official said.
She said EDL also pays close to $10 million a month for the Turkish electricity barges which supply Lebanon with 270 MW of power.
Separately, sources said the state had failed to pay the dues for the company building a new power plant in Zouk just outside Beirut, which resulted in fines to the state amounting to 15 million euros, nearly LL30.88 billion.
Danish constructor BWSC is building two new power plants in Jiyyeh and Zouk.
The facilities are expected to be completed within a few months and will boost the country’s electricity supplies.