Al-Kadhimi dismisses and reprimands officials in the Ministry of Electricity in the wake of today’s nationwide outage


Shafaq News/ Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi issued an executive order to dismiss a roster of officials in the Ministry of Electricity.

According to a statement by al-Kadhimi's media office, the Prime Minister dismissed the General Director of the State Company for Electricity Transmission/the Middle Euphrates and reprimanded him for neglecting his duties which resulted in the power outage.

The statement said that al-Kadhimi also instructed taking measures against other officials in the Ministry for negligence and opening investigations into the deeds that led to exacerbating the sufferings of the citizens.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, rolled on Friday a list of decrees to address the electricity crisis after an abrupt failure of the entire national grid, except for that of the Kurdistan Region.

In a statement issued by al-Kadhimi's office earlier today, said that the Prime Minister remained in touch with the senior officials in charge of the power outage crisis and cracked down a list of decisions:

First/ A crisis cell is formed to address the shortage of electricity supply in the country. The cell is headed by the Prime Minister himself and includes the Ministries of Electricity, Oil, Finance, and Interior, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, the Director of the Prime Minister's Office, the Head of the National Security Services, and the Secretary of the Supreme Committee for Coordination between the Governorates.

Second/ the cell undertakes the following tasks:

1. Taking the immediate measures necessary to boost the electric power supply hours.

2. Securing all forms of financial, technical, logistical, and security support to the Ministry of Electricity.

3. Engaging local governments in power production and distribution.

4. Removing all the illegal connections to the national grid and confiscating the tools and equipment used in the process.

5. Initiating criminal cases against the abusers of the national power grid 

6. Accelerating practical procedures to support and encourage renewable energy resources and integrate the private sector in the electricity field.

Third/ The cell is in continuous convention in July and August. In the remaining months, it holds periodic meetings. The decisions are taken by majority.

In a second statement issued by his office, Al-Kadhimi directed the Ministry of Oil to increase the fuel quota for private generators.

For its part, the Ministry of Electricity announced in a statement that its staff successfully reconnected power to the national electricity system in a record time after a complete halt at dawn today, Friday.

The Ministry said that its squads were able to restore the power production to the pre-outage level (18,500 MW), despite the vandalism and terrorism acts targetting transmission towers.

The Ministry called on the security authorities, tribal Sheikhs, and the citizens to cooperate with them and report any suspicious movements near the power transmission lines and towers.

A widespread power outage hit Iraq on Friday as temperatures reached scorching levels, affecting millions of Iraqis, including in affluent areas in the capital and stirring concerns of widespread unrest.

According to Ministry of Electricity data on Friday morning, Iraq's grid was generating just over 4,000 megawatts on Friday morning, less than the 12,000-17,000 MW the grid generates on average. However, by midday, the generation climbed to 8,000 Megawatts. The cuts have impacted Baghdad and the southern governorates in particular.

The Electricity Ministry said power transmission lines have been routinely sabotaged by unknown groups in northern Iraq in recent weeks. One 400 kilovolt line from Kirkuk to Qayara was targeted Thursday, the Ministry said in a statement. Another 132-kilovolt line was hit in Saladin on the same day.

Local channels initially reported that the outage on Friday was due to the cutting of a major 400-kilovolt line between Baghdad and the southern province of Babylon. 

Total shutdowns can also occur when Iraq's electricity network is working at maximum capacity. Defects in the transmission network and distribution capacity also contribute to outages. High temperatures can also impact the distribution lines.

Temperatures in Baghdad and other governorates have been soaring above 48 degrees Celsius in recent days. The government declared an official holiday in Baghdad on Thursday due to the scorching heatwave.

Power outages routinely fuel protests in Iraq. Poor government service delivery and rampant corruption was a driver of mass anti-government demonstrations across Iraq in 2019.

Iran recently cut crucial electricity exports to Iraq this week, which can amount to nearly a third of Iraq's supply in the peak summer months. Iraq's Electricity Minister Majed Hantoush also recently resigned, citing political and popular pressure.

Iraq is capable of generating 20,000 MW, but actual capacity owing to technical losses and other issues average between 12,000-17,000 MW during the summer months.

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