Cites spike in usage, primarily due to power theft
The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has issued a statement of apology to its customers for the Load Shedding (rolling brown outs) which they are currently experiencing. The LEC said over the last 15 months the improved stability and reliability of the LEC's generation and distribution network has led to an overall increased reliance on LEC as the electricity supplier of choice.
"This has driven an increase in electricity usage of almost 50% from 15,000kWh in Jan 2018 to 22,000kWh in Feb 2019. Unfortunately much of this growth stems from electricity theft, which is currently costing LEC over US$3 million per month," the management said.
During the raining season this growth would be accommodated from Mt. Coffee, the management said, "however the situation is radically different during the dry season when virtually all generation is provided from our Bushrod plants. This increased energy demand has driven a commensurate increase in demand for fuel oil to run the generators at Bushrod."
The LEC, it said, "requires two kinds of fuel oil, Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to run the main base load generation, and LFO (Diesel) to run the peaking generators which only run during the short duration peak / heavy demand periods."
"At present LEC is battling two problems, both of which are leading to load shedding: To secure enough HFO to allow it generate full base load until the rainy season; and to find the finance necessary to buy enough Light Fuel Oil (LFO) to run the peaking generators and thereby carry the full load of the system," the utility provider said.
It added, "Through the good offices of the Government of Liberia we hope to resolve the first of these shortly. However, due to the impact of electricity theft, we cannot generate the hundreds of thousands of US Dollars necessary to buy an adequate amount of LFO to run the peaking generators and thereby meet the peak demand."
Consequently, the LEC said it is currently optimizing generation to ration fuel and constrain costs, resulting in load shedding. In the interest of fairness Load Shedding is organized on a rolling basis to spread the impact across all customers. To assist customers in planning their activities, a load shedding schedule will be published on Friday 22nd March.
Customers, LEC said, should note the following:
Expect to be without supply for periods of 6 - 12 hours.
Avoid opening fridge or freezer doors to retain the internal cold
Always treat the electricity system as live; it could be switched back without warning.
Switch off and unplug appliances until power is restored.