Bahran: Please economize in using electricity [Archives:2007/1081/Business & Economy]

August 30 2007

Interviewed by: Khalil Al-Qahiri
In a brief Interview to a Yemen-Times subsidiary, Dr. Mustafa Bahran, Minister of Energy and Electricity, expressed some of his thoughts with regards to the power realities, problems, and possible solutions in place that the Ministry is working on. His Excellency also called on the Yemeni public to reduce consumption of power during peak hours especially as the Holy month of Ramadhan is almost here.

Your Excellency, power interruptions are a recurring headache for many people in different parts of the country all year long, will we see similar interruptions during the month of Ramadhan?

First, let me congratulate the Yemeni people on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadhan. Second, we have planned that this year's Ramadhan will experience less power interruptions as we are currently buying electricity from other sources beside the power we generate using our own infrastructure.

However, I call on the Yemeni public to economize using the power especially during the peak hours, such as the evenings of Ramadhan, and use heavy-consumption equipment during the day.

However power interruptions happen when people need power the most, why?

Because this happens at the peak hours, when there is too much demand for power that exceeds supply, therefore we find ourselves forced to cut some locations off power, however, these interruptions do not exceed an hour at most unless there is a technical fault.

In fact, we are working on long-term solutions to ensure more power supply.

Can you tell us about these solutions?

Yes, actually, in the short and medium term we buy power from the regional market or the private sector, however, for the long-term we are currently constructing a power generation plant in Mareb with a capacity of producing 341 Megawatts, which is expected to boost the national supply and therefore limit any interruptions. This power plant will work on natural gas and can be converted to work using nuclear power in the future. So, hopefully by Ramadhan next year there will be no interruptions across the nation.

This seems very encouraging; however, I'd like to ask you about your new no-tolerance policy for any overdue in the power bills even if it was less than two thousand Riyals, why?

The Ministry has a serious problem of overdue, there are around 18 billion Riyals in unsettled power bills across the nation, and this number have been accumulating for several years and is a major concern for me, therefore, the natural thing to do is to adopt a no-tolerance policy in order to avoid accumulating any additional overdue amounts.

Having said that, it still upsets me to know that the regular layman, who has 2000 Riyals as overdue, has to pay it within the timeframe, otherwise, his power service is shut off, while other influential people may have a million in overdue, yet the staff of the Ministry are unable to shut their power off.

This is very upsetting and I am currently working on establishing the legal guidance for the Ministry in order to prosecute such influential people, as well as put a policing system in place to eradicate such scenarios and maintain equal treatment with all.

Looking into the future, what are your Ministry's plans within the next few years?

Our biggest project at hand is the Mareb power plant, which will be a state-of-the-art facility and is expected to increase the national power production, which, in return, will allow us expand our service areas to include more rural and remote locations that are currently uncovered by the power grid, such as the governorates of Ibb and Taiz which are underserved though they have a significant rural population.