Record Heat Disrupts Ahvaz Power Supply

Record Heat Disrupts Ahvaz Power SupplyRecord Heat Disrupts Ahvaz Power Supply

Parts of the city of Ahvaz went off the power grid at the weekend as scorching heat and rising  demand for electricity in southern Khuzestan Province took a toll on electrical equipment.  Efforts were underway to restore power to affected areas.

Mahmoud Dasht-Bozorgi, a local power official, told state news agency IRNA on Sunday that some transformers and substations broke down on Saturday and Sunday as the grid was overloaded.

"Some transformers and substations east of Ahvaz have sustained enormous electrical load in the past few days. A transformer caught fire but the blaze was put out soon," Dasht-Bozorgi said.

The official blamed the severe and unexpected heat wave for the power deficit. Data show the temperature in Ahvaz has shot up to 50 degrees Celsius in recent days (Sunday noon the weatherman reported 47 °C for the oil city). Many regions across the country are grappling with the blistering weather. The mercury in Tehran, a city that has a relatively moderate climate compared to the southern regions, is bordering on 40 degrees Celsius for the past several days.

Power outages in Khuzestan have become increasingly frequent in recent years. In winter, the province was battered by irregular but weeks-long blackouts as some power and water facilities were hit by recurrent sand and dust storms originating largely from the western Arab neighbor Iraq.

In the past several years there has been a systemic increase in power consumption during the hot summer months as temperatures rise and homes and offices turn on their cooling systems.

Consumption hit an all-time high of 53,000 MW in the previous fiscal that ended in March, with air conditioners constituting one-third of the demand. According to forecasts, electricity demand will surge to 58,000 MW this summer.

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said last week the peak power demand in June so far has exceeded the highest levels of consumption compared to the same time in the previous fiscal by up to 10% in some areas "despite the fact that the actual summer season has not yet begun."

The main power supplier (Tavanir) has routinely warned homes and offices to rethink their unacceptably high consumption.

It says failing to conserve electricity means blackouts in many regions. The government is striving to attract foreign investment to improve energy infrastructure, namely build power plants and improve old and ageing production and distribution systems.

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