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Fri 18 Jun 2010 03:41 PM

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Power cuts hit Saudis amid rising temperatures

Power demand had reached 'historic highs' last week - Saudi Electricity Company official.

Power cuts hit Saudis amid rising temperatures

Saudi Electricity will raise tariffs for government, commercial and industrial users as of July 1. (Getty Images)

Power cuts were experienced in various regions across Saudi Arabia on Thursday as demand increased in response to the rise in temperatures, according to a report.

“The power cuts have been mainly due to climatic conditions and the unusual rise in temperatures,” Abdul Salam Al-Yamani, vice chairman of the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) told the Saudi Gazette.

According to the daily, in Qassim, repeated power cuts over the last few days have increased fears of a repetition of summer 2009 when continual failures were provoked by record-high temperatures.

“On Wednesday this week temperatures hit 50, and Buraidah and other towns were left without power for over an hour,” the Saudi Gazette reported.

The daily added that a regional SEC official said that power demand had reached “historic highs” last week, but the SEC in Qassim noted last summer that a significant rise in demand from the previous year was due to the 13 percent “habitual” annual growth in the region.

In Makkah, SEC supervisor Wa’il Hassanain told Saudi Gazette that they are geared to tackle the expected rise in temperatures, “particularly in Ramadan”.

“Demand is projected to increase by 40 percent on last year around the beginning of August,” he said.

“We have laid out a plan to identify early the lines that may be subject to extra pressure. The main cause of failures is demand overload.”

Saudi Electricity will raise tariffs for government, commercial and industrial users as of July 1, which would add 3.2 billion riyals ($853.3m) to its annual revenues and boost its profitability.

Households account for 53 percent of power consumption in the desert kingdom and much of it is used for air-conditioning.

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