BEIRUT: The Zahrani power plant, shut down Friday afternoon by employees, leaving much of the country in the dark for hours, remained closed Saturday.
The shutdown was reportedly in protest at a decision by Electricite du Liban to replace a 40 MVA transformer with a much smaller unit, with sources telling The Daily Star that employees had come under threat from municipalities and “street gangs” to shut the plant down.
Large-scale protests are nothing new in Zahrani, a small industrial town that produces over a third of the country’s electricity but is subject to routine power outages.
Last month, residents closed down a road in front of the plant, complaining that their own power outages had reached intolerable levels and electricity they produced was being sent to other areas, while they suffered from health problems from the plant’s pollution, reported Al-Akhbar.
Electricite du Liban said the protest came after employees transported a major MVA power transformer in the Zahrani power plant from Tyre to Sidon, adding that the latter city had needed the adapter.
Sources said EDL employees shut down the power plant completely after they had allegedly received threats from residents and municipalities regarding the removal of the transformer
"The adapter which has been transported produces 40 megawatts ... while the Zahrani plant only requires 20 megawatts, according to technical studies and as per the network's demands,” the statement said, adding that the “act of vandalism” was punishable by law.
The Zahrani plant produces around 450 megawatts per day, and accounts for around 35 percent of Lebanon’s daily electricity supply, making it the second-largest power plant in the country after Zouk Mikhael, just north of Beirut. The plant supplies electricity to Beirut and some areas in the south and Mount Lebanon.