Jun 14 2012
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Power cuts 'on the table' amid summer spike in electricity demand
AMMAN -- Energy officials are considering scheduled power cuts this summer in order to cope with rising demand and generation costs experts say are tipping the country towards an "electricity crisis".
The National Electric Power Company ( NEPCO ) is currently studying a potential policy of pre-planned power outages across the country in order to lessen the burden on the Kingdom's national grid this season, an electricity sector source said.
The decision, which would be implemented next month, aims to prevent a grid "overload" due to the seasonal spike in demand, which officials expect to "skyrocket" this year due to the influx of Arab Gulf visitors and a Syrian refugee population that has surpassed 125,000, according to the source.
The move also comes in response to ongoing cuts in Jordan's Egyptian gas supplies, which have pushed NEPCO 's generation costs to some 189 fils per kilowatt hour (kWh), nearly three times the 72 fils/kWh rate at which it sells electricity to the bulk of consumers.
Demand reached only 2,700MW on Thursday despite a heatwave, Maabreh said.
"We are committed to ensuring supply to all our customers without any disruptions," he added.
The Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) previously warned that officials would resort to scheduled regional "blackouts" should new electricity tariffs fail to narrow NEPCO 's JD1.7 billion deficit.
Although new electricity tariffs introduced earlier this month raised rates as high as 150 per cent across several sectors, the ERC says the relatively limited increase will shave some JD100 million each year from the budget deficit, which officials expect to narrow within a 11-year time span.
Authorities cite rising electricity generation costs as one of the main factors behind a record JD2.9 billion budget deficit that has forced the government to take a series of unpopular austerity measures.
In addition to raising electricity rates, the government has also increased fuel prices, most recently late Tuesday night, prompting a popular backlash and triggering a series of anti-government protests across the country.
© Jordan Times 2012
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