After years of delays due
to corruption, internal infighting, political stalemates, and a deficit
incurred by pervasive electricity theft, massive subsidies, and the detrimental
effects of the Syrian migration crisis, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Mrs. Nada
Boustany succeeded at devising a new energy plan deemed to reform the state
electricity company, introduce new pricing policies, and boost power
production. Indeed, the minister immediately went to work with advisors in drafting
an electricity overhaul after assuming the electricity portfolio in late
January, primarily focusing on the modernization of the transmission grid,
adding several gigawatts-worth of gas-fired powergen capacity while
decommissioning old steam turbine plants, and shifting fuel supply away from
fuel oil and expensive diesel imports toward cheaper (and cleaner) natural gas.
Additionally, the plan is expected to expedite long-delayed efforts to push
forward with renewable energy.
This plan will also reduce
the budget deficit by 2020, as elaborated by the experts in the field: The 180%
increase in Electricity du Liban's (EDL) tariffs (frozen and subsidized since
1994), and the elimination of private generator bills for consumers will
reflect in a 10.7% to 14.5% decrease
in the electricity bill, depending on the size of consumption. The plan is considered
a very positive move as all international ratings companies will see that
Lebanon is indeed taking real steps to reform the electricity sector and will
be able to reduce the $1.8 billion EDL deficit, and subsequently the national
$5.5 billion deficit; a stipulation from international donors at the Paris
CEDRE Conference who pledged more than $11 billion in soft loans and grants.
Furthermore, both Siemens and General Electric have been heavily linked to the
master plan and in all likelihood, the ministry will opt to pursue an overhaul
very similar to that set out last year by the World Bank and then Energy
Minister Mr. Cesar Abi Khalil (Minister Boustany was serving as an advisor) as
part of the Capital Investment Plan (CIP) created for the CEDRE conference.
Aside from its innovative
and advanced technical mechanisms, the new energy plan has proven that this
tenure is relentlessly working toward reforming Lebanon’s sectors, and efficiently
fighting corruption. In the midst of the din of criticism, disapprovals, and
condemnations, the free (undeterred) patriots of Lebanon still believe in the
change and reform. They continue to work hard toward implementing suitable
solutions for convoluted inherited problems, defying destructive impasses.
Congratulations to Lebanon
for overcoming this major obstacle. Congratulations to Minister Boustany who
proved, within a very short period of time, that she is a true patriot; qualified
to fulfill her duties and determined to serve her country.