Thursday, August 23, 2007

Surge Notes

Freedom Facts:

In 2006, medical care improved in Iraq with the renovation of 15 hospitals. Each completed facility sees approximately 500 patients per day for a total of 11,000 patients nationwide.

Progress in Iraq and the road ahead

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, commanding general of the Gulf Region Division, and Dr. Karim Wahid, the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, discussed the advancement of electricity in Iraq.

Walsh opened the discussion with a brief history of electricity in Iraq. While under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad received 22 to 24 hours of electricity a day, while the rest of Iraq received far less. In 2004 the U.S. government goal was to aid the Iraqi government efforts to stabilize the electricity grid through out Iraq, Walsh said.

“Certainly when you flip the light switch and nothing happens people can get angry,” Walsh said. “We are working very diligently with our Government of Iraq partners

The completion of more than 500 electrical projects in the area of generation, transmission and distribution are just some of the signs of progress. These projects account for 80 percent of the planned electrical projects in Iraq, Walsh said.

In the month of August, Iraq had 12 days with a peaked megawatt output, which exceeded 5,000 megawatts. The advancements are challenged by lack of fuel and the constant increase in demand for electricity, Walsh said.

“The demand (for electricity) has increased more than 70 percent since 2004 because the people of Iraq are purchasing more energy intensive products like air conditioners, refrigerators, computers and other electronic devices, and that is good,” Walsh said.

The goal is to have an equitable distribution of power across Iraq. Although Baghdad is receiving less power now then it did before the war, the rest of Iraq is getting more, Walsh said.

Power distribution centers across Iraq are becoming operational. A power plant in Daura recently became fully operational for the first time since 2001. A gas turbine plant in Musayyib will be operational within months providing another 400 megawatts of electricity for the Iraq power grid, Walsh said.

Karim then explained a new plan to improve the national power grid over the next ten years. The plan focuses on adding an additional 1,000 to 1,500 megawatts to the national grid. The Ministry of Electricity plans to allocate $40 million a year for the next four years, Karim said.

The ministry also plans to repair existing power plants and build other plants across Iraq. Power plants in Hurriyah, Al-Kudis and al-Telgi will be rebuilt and a plant will be placed in Nasariyah, he said.

“Iraq needs approximately 9,500 megawatts,” Karim said. “We will reach 5,400 megawatts in the next few months.”

This plan will also ensure the oil pipelines that fuel the power plants do are secured. These pipelines are often the target of attacks, which has virtually paralyzed the lines that run into the Baghdad area, Karim said.

The Ministry of Electricity works 24-hours a day, but still faces problems. Due to the insecurity in Iraq, workers cannot conduct their duties in certain parts of the country. In spite of these set-backs, Iraq has achieved 5,000 megawatts, Karim said

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