US helps power-starved Lebanese companies swap to photo voltaic

BEIRUT: The US has launched a $20 million fund to assist Lebanese companies set up photo voltaic power methods as homeowners battle to remain afloat amid the collapse of the nation’s electrical energy sector.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea launched the Photo voltaic & Renewable Power Fund on Friday, saying it should assist native companies cut back working prices, maintain their operations and keep employment ranges.

“This fund will help the acquisition and set up of solar energy technology methods for at the least 25 companies,” she stated.

Lebanon’s crumbling energy sector has pressured companies and households to rely largely on non-public diesel mills.

Energy now could be obtainable for less than 4 hours a day, due to a $60 million advance authorized by the Cupboard in favor of the Electricite du Liban to provide gasoline to function the Deir Ammar and Zahrani crops.

Nevertheless, few belief the state’s sudden generosity. Jamal, a lawyer, stated: “Growing feeding hours to 4 hours could also be a brief lure to impose the brand new value on taxpayers, after which we’ll fall again into darkness.”

Shea stated: “Lebanese companies are struggling on this present financial disaster. They’ve restricted entry to financing and their capital accounts, like these of all depositors, are trapped in Lebanese banks. For years, Lebanese enterprises relied on unsustainable and expensive power sources dangerous to the surroundings.

“The US Company for Worldwide Improvement contributed $4 million in seed capital to the Photo voltaic & Renewable Power Fund, and we’re working to safe an extra $16 million from non-public buyers and different donors.”

She added: “The fund will lend capital to enterprises at business charges, anticipating that the loans might be repaid inside two to a few years. This may come from financial savings on decreased reliance on diesel mills.

“We count on that these companies will reduce their working prices by at the least 20 p.c, lowering their expenditures on electrical energy, and thereby boosting productiveness and defending Lebanese jobs.”

Lebanon has failed for many years to reform the electrical energy sector, which has price the state billions of {dollars} with out reaching efficient options.

The state treasury covers EDL’s losses, which quantity to about $2.5 billion yearly. The deficit created by the Lebanese electrical energy sector is about 45 p.c of the nation’s whole.

Protesters staged sit-ins on the EDL headquarters in 2019 over the decreased energy provide. Earlier than the disaster, the Lebanese obtained 12 hours of state electrical energy per day. Nevertheless, the feeding hours steadily dropped to eight, then 4, earlier than energy crops have been briefly shut down.

Farid Belhaj, World Financial institution vice chairman for the Center East and North Africa, met Najib Mikati, Lebanon’s caretaker premier, earlier this week and expressed the financial institution’s dismay on the authorities’s failure to reform the electrical energy sector, a situation for implementing a plan to attract power from Jordan through Syria, funded by the financial institution.

A call by Lebanon’s power ministry to lift subscription charges for entry to electrical energy, based mostly on the always altering alternate charge, has added to the burden going through many Lebanese.

With month-to-month payments amounting to thousands and thousands of Lebanese kilos, many are cancelling their subscription, saying they will not afford to pay state electrical energy and personal generator charges, particularly because the latter are priced in {dollars}.

As the worth of the Lebanese pound continues to fall and the value of diesel to function non-public mills rises, many have opted for photo voltaic power.

Hundreds of photo voltaic panels have been put in on residential buildings and on rural land within the countryside to energy factories producing native commodities.

Lebanese citizen Ahmed Al-Rabih stated: “I made a decision to cancel my electrical energy subscription as a result of I can’t bear all these burdens. The consumption worth is 10 cents for below 100 kilowatts, and 27 cents for over 100 kilowatts, which implies that the invoice will at the least quantity to 1,500,000 Lebanese kilos.”

An EDL worker advised Arab Information: “Many voters who emigrated from Lebanon have requested their kin to submit requests to cancel their electrical energy subscription as a result of they’d be pointlessly paying charges with out benefiting from electrical energy. Others are canceling their subscription as a result of they’ve non-public mills or photo voltaic power for his or her buildings and there’s no want for them to pay extra charges.”

The worker stated famous {that a} third class of individuals are canceling their subscriptions with out having different options, however they will merely not afford it.

Activists launched an internet marketing campaign below the slogan “We won’t pay” in objection to the brand new tariff for state electrical energy and to boycott the fee of EDL payments.


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