EghtesadOnline: Over 6,000 megawatts have been added to installed power capacity in the past two years, and hydroelectric power plants are in the best conditions due to the heavy rains in the past months.
However, none of this is enough to make up for the ever-increasing power consumption in summer, and there are plans to change working hours during the hot season to avoid potential power outages.
“Targeting load shedding during the peak demand, the changes to office working hours will be announced,” said the director general of the Consumption Management and Consumer Services Office at the Iran Power Generation and Transmission Company (Tavanir), according to Financial Tribune.
“Changing working hours helped a lot with load management in provincial capitals, big cities and towns last year,” Bargh News quoted Hadi Modaqeq as saying.
The initiative reduced power consumption by as much as 500 megawatts last summer. As per the hour shifting scheme, staff started work at 6:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. and left at 3:30 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m.
When the program goes into effect, “state organizations should switch off all cooling systems and also reduce consumption in other sections (lighting, computers and other electrical appliances) after the working hours are over,” Modaqeq said. “The organizations will face power outages if they do not comply.”
The government is adding to the installed power capacity by building power plants to meet the rising summer demand.
In the past two years, 11 power plants have come online and through the maintenance programs many stations have increased output. But the country is almost always short of power in the hot summers when the mercury in some southern and central regions approaches 45 degrees centigrade.
Average global electricity consumption rises by less than 3% per annum. Iran's demand jumps to over 6% every year – a pattern that has been causing concern among experts, environmentalists and conservationists long pleading for effective action to curb consumption.
3 Times Over World Consumption
Official data show that while the world's energy consumption increased 27% in the past decade, Iran's overall energy use rose by a whopping 80%" in the same period. Such imprudence has made Iran the 18th largest power consumer in the world.
Rising consumption is a problem for the government as it faces difficulty supplying some regions with electricity during summers, and power outages become inevitable.
High and rising consumption has compelled the government to import more power from neighbors in the summer.
Under swap deals, Iran exports electricity to Armenia and Azerbaijan in winter and imports in summer.
Iran's installed power production capacity is around 81,000 MW. The government imports 300 MW in summer.
While judicious consumption is always advised by conservationists and officials, a new decision by the government last October seems in contrast with its motto of judicious consumption.
As per law, schools are exempt from paying water, gas and electricity bills if they keep their consumption below a certain level. However, schools are charged if they do not observe the judicious consumption patterns.
This is at a time when the Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian has voiced his disapproval of the government decision, saying it encourages higher power consumption and waste in schools.
When water and electricity is consumed freely and excessively in schools, “it apparently becomes difficult to convince schoolchildren to use energy judiciously,” Ardakanian argues.
Data released by the Energy Ministry show that among 200 countries, Iran sells the cheapest power on average after Egypt, Kuwait and Myanmar (Burma). Electricity is presently sold at 0.7 cents per kWh.
Energy experts and economists say so long as electricity prices are not adjusted upwards, the problem of overconsumption and waste will be here to stay.
The Majlis recently rejected a proposal by the government to raise water and electricity tariffs by 7%, saying that it will add pressure on the people who are already struggling under poor economic conditions and the shrinking purchasing power.