Lebanon approves bill to revamp power sector

Lebanese are planning construction of new LNG power plants

BEIRUT - Lebanon's parliament on Thursday ratified a controversial bill calling for a 1.2-billion-dollar overhaul of the electricity sector in a country still plagued by daily power cuts.
The bill, aimed at boosting Lebanon's power supply by 700 megawatts, was approved unanimously following weeks of debate between the ruling majority led by Hezbollah and the Western-backed opposition.
"The bill was approved and it represents a victory for all Lebanese", Hezbollah's Christian ally, General Michel Aoun, told reporters.
The opposition had initially baulked at supporting the bill on the grounds that it did not ensure transparency as to how the money would be spent.
Of the 1.2 billion dollars allocated for the project, 600 million dollars would come from the government and the remainder from Arab states. Financing would be spread over four years.
The bill calls for upgrading existing power plants and for the construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plants.
Chronic power shortages since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war have been a main source of grievance among Lebanese who must put up with daily cuts.
Several plans had been proposed since the end of the war to boost the power supply and prevent people stealing from the electricity grid but to no avail.
Electricity output in Lebanon reaches 1,700 MW on average in the summer at a time when the demand stands at 2,500 MW.
The state power company's deficit represents three percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).