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IRAN: Electrical outages in Tehran

June 16, 2008 |  9:38 am

RaminBy Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

I headed to the bank the other day to pay the phone bill. No sooner did I go inside when the electricity went out. The tellers politely asked the customers to go to other banks.

But the problem was that the whole neighborhood was suffering from a power outage.

This is now happening frequently and is regarded  as outrageous by the people across the country, especially in Tehran, the capital.

Fars News Agency, a semi-official news website, has devoted an entire section to power outages in different parts of the country, including Bandar Abbas, a port city in the south, Sistan-Baluchestan, a province in the east, Esfahan and Shiraz in central Iran and Mazandaran province in the north.

The outage is so painful that, according to the Persian-language section of Fars News, "several lawmakers have warned the government and the energy minister on the frequent blackouts and power outages in the capital and many other cities and called for urgent action since summer is fast approaching."

The energy ministry has announced that as of June 21,the media will publicize blackout timetables so that people can adjust their daily routines.

"Total electricity production of the nationwide grid is 32,000 megawatts but the consumption is 34,000, so the discrepancy should be removed by less consumption," said Parviz Fattah, the energy minister.

He advised people to reduce their electricity consumption.

There are signs the ministry is in trouble. The newspaper Kargozaran quoted Mohammad Parsa, the head of the construction contractors' syndicate,  as saying that the "the debt of the power ministry to the contractors is increasing and the contractors are on the verge of bankruptcy "

Experts say that poor maintenance of the electricity grid is also a factor in  the frequent outages.

Some Iranians whisper that United Nations sanctions on Iran are restricting imports for spare parts to keep the grid robust.