BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement defended Friday its move to block a third floating power station from docking in Zahrani, South Lebanon, in the latest sign of resurfacing tensions with President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement.
Amal Movement argued that the party takes pride in denying the power barge access because it "poses an environmental risk as well as an obstacle for the power plants being developed in the area."
Last month, Lebanon received its third floating power station — the 235-megawatt Esra Sultan, built and operated by the privately owned Turkish Karadeniz Energy Group. The power barge, which the Turkish company offered to the Lebanese government free of charge for three months, was described by Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil as a temporary but thrifty measure to reduce part of Lebanon’s electricity deficit.
After bickering between the FPM, Amal Movement, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party, the ship will finally be docked in Zouk and contribute to an increase in power supply to residents of Keserwan, Byblos, and part of the Metn region of at least 22 hours daily.
A source at the Energy Ministry told Annahar that the ship will be connected to the power grid in Zouk on Wednesday.
The state-owned Electricite du Liban initially recommended linking the ship to the Zahrani plant but Amal Movement's opposition to the move prompted the Energy Ministry to relocate the floating power station to Jiyyeh, a decision that the PSP had also initially blasted. The Jiyyeh power plant is also technically unequipped to process the full capacity of the power barge, EDL said. The Energy Ministry then decided to connect the power barge to the Zouk power plant where ongoing repairs have led to increased power rationing in Keserwan.
Blackouts have been a fixture of life in this Mediterranean country since the 1975-1990 civil war.
In May, Lebanon's Cabinet approved a one-year extension of the two Turkish-owned and operated Fatmagül and Orhan Bey power ships during a meeting at Baadba palace.
Electricity from the Karadeniz barges costs more than producing it on land but less than the fees private operators charge for backup power during the daily outages. - With AP
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