Thursday, August 23, 2007

Electricity Minister: Government has lost control of grid to armed groups

Above: A soldier with the 37th Field Artillery Regiment searches a home by flashlight in Kemp Village in July.

Armed groups increasingly control the antiquated switching stations that channel electricity around Iraq, the electricity minister said Wednesday.

That is dividing the national grid into fiefs that, he said, often refuse to share electricity generated locally with Baghdad and other power-starved areas in the center of Iraq...

The government lost the ability to control the grid centrally after the American-led invasion in 2003, when looters destroyed electrical dispatch centers, the minister, Karim Wahid, said in a news briefing attended also by United States military officials...

Because of the lack of functioning dispatch centers, Mr. Wahid said, ministry officials have been trying to control the flow of electricity from huge power plants in the south, north and west by calling local officials there and ordering them to physically flip switches.

But the officials refuse to follow those orders when the armed groups threaten their lives, he said, and the often isolated stations are abandoned at night and easily manipulated by whatever group controls the area.

Read the rest at the NY Times

Related Link:
Officials: Iraq's national power grid on brink of collapse; 4 nationwide blackouts in 2 days; Karbala without power for 3 days; Water supply affected

Related Link:
Report: Some sections of Baghdad without water for 6 days

Related Link:
Administration stops reporting availability of electricity in Baghdad as number drops to 'an hour or two a day'

Related Link:
Perspective: Powerless in Baghdad

Related Link:
U.S.: After $4.2 billion spent, Baghdad still 6 years away from full electricity

Related Link:
Perspective: Insurgents Starve Capital of Electricity