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LEC in US$20m deficit

LEC Building NDThe Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the government-owned Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC says the corporation is operating in a US$20 million-deficit. Suggesting that due to the huge debts incurred, the management was finding it very challenging to meet the expectation of its customers, as well as living up to international standards of practice.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer Joe Mayah said during public hearings at the capitol Building Wednesday in the Chambers of the Liberian Senate that since the resumption of the operations of the corporation, both the Liberian Government and international partners have spent US$800 million, but the challenges of full operation is still a problem.

Mr. Mayah indicated that another factor hampering the functions of the LEC is power theft, while thousands of subscribers were not duly paying regular bills, but reportedly engaged in theft. Currently, the Senate’s Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy is conducting public hearings for a bill submitted to it for the privatization of electricity in the country, other than continuously being a public corporation.

The new proposed bill is also emphasizing that LEC be squarely privatized wherein the government would only play monitoring and supervisory roles, while the role of service provider will be executed by an international electricity company.

Meanwhile, the Committee’s Chairman, Grand Kru Senator Albert Chie has assured that there will another public hearing before Legislative actions are instituted. The Liberia Electricity Corporation had operated on low voltage as it struggled to resuscitate its damaged facilities in a desperate attempt to light a country darkened by years of civil conflicts. Nonetheless, the provision of electricity to some parts of Monrovia and its environs, as well as the government’s ambitious plans to expand such basic social service to are all indications that the LEC wass getting higher on shocks.

In the aftermath of the war, the sounds of personal generators echoed across, especially in Monrovia, becoming the only source of electricity for many Liberians and businesses.  The use of generators, which were once foreign to Liberians, came with higher costs as many suffered the effect of carbon monoxide released by generators produced. Many who could afford did so to scare away thieves and protect themselves. Then, there were only a handful of LEC customers – mainly from Bushrod Island, but that was then.

Now, the achievements are clearly visible at the LEC as illustrated by the restoration of its basic functions in Monrovia. A small grid rebuilt in Monrovia has expanded the supply of electricity to this densely populated capital.

This has increased LEC’s customer base exponentially from 2,469 in 2010 to over 19,000 customers, and that accounts for 9.2 percent of the population of Monrovia and about three percent nationwide.  Of this number, 3,443 are commercial, while 15,383 are residential. Peak demand (maximum demand during any given day) has also increased – although at a much lower rate, from 4MW in 2010 to 8MW in June 2012 and currently 9.5MW.

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