The Cabinet on Thursday approved some points of Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil’s electricity plan, as it requested further evaluation of the controversial issues of power-generating ships and the Deir Amar power plant.

Among the approved points was “hiring a consultant to devise the book of terms needed to build power plants and tasking the ministers of finance and energy to negotiate with the contractor of the Deir Amar plant in order to reach an agreement before May 20.”

Abi Khalil was also asked to “provide the Council of Ministers with a comprehensive vision about the additional required megawatts.”

“Accordingly, it did not approve renting new ships or extending the contract of the current ships,” a Cabinet statement said.

Abi Khalil meanwhile said: “An agreement was reached on most things and we have not proposed power ships but rather several sources to purchase electricity.”

“The electricity plan is an integrated plan and in the issue of the Deir Amar plant the Finance Minister was tasked to negotiate with the firm and this has highlighted the correctness of the Energy Ministry’s stance,” the minister added.

“In 2010 we kicked off a plan to build power plants on land and the new Jiyeh and Zouk plants have become operational,” Abi Khalil went on to say, noting that “it is normal to bring emergency and urgent megawatts pending the completion of the onshore power plants and the fulfillment of the required production capacity.”

As for the electricity supply this summer, the minister said: “Electricity this summer will be the same as last summer and should we be able to bring extra megawatts in a quick time, there will be additional supply hours.”

Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi meanwhile said that “the Cabinet approved the Energy Minister’s general proposal to reform and rescue the electricity sector.”

“A comprehensive approach towards the electricity file was approved, including onshore plants and new books of terms, and the option of ships is one of the options and has not been ruled out until the moment,” Bou Assi added.
Report: Generator Owners ‘Pressure Group in Parliament’ Hindering Solution

by Naharnet Newsdesk 20 April 2018

Lebanon’s failure to find a solution for its chronic electricity crisis was attributed to “pressures exerted by owners of generators who control 50 percent of the Lebanese market and represent a pressure group within the parliament,” the pan-Arab al-Hayat reported on Friday.

French sources following up closely on the international CEDRE conference held in Paris two weeks ago, which secured billions for Lebanon’s infrastructure, asked about the reasons behind all failed projects that aimed to reform Lebanon’s electricity sector and improve the bill collection system.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the daily that the answer lies in “threats of owners of generators who control 50 percent of the Lebanese market and represent a pressure group within the parliament.”

They added that “investors at CEDRE insist on the need for electricity sector reform in order to reduce public expenses and public deficit, and also because the reforms will not be negative for the consumer, but will be negative for the of owners of generators.”

On the electricity plan to lease power generating vessels, they considered it an “expensive and short-term solution,” and Paris has alerted Lebanese officials of corruption because the plan was based on a “single offer.”

They warned that imposition of such a plan could trigger a “political crisis,” due to the fact that it raised a lot of criticism and fears of corruption.

“Paris can provide the Lebanese authorities with a permanent solution that will increase the production of electricity within 10 months via two power plants, and at a lower cost than the barges. Paris has not yet raised the issue because the Free Patriotic Movement is still committed to the power barges plan. But Paris considers the ships plan as no longer viable politically, as it raised controversy and doubts,” concluded the sources.