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Mon 30 May 2011 09:27 AM

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Sharjah residents fear blackouts as summer looms

Three-day long power outages last year hit businesses, residents in emirate

Sharjah residents fear blackouts as summer looms
Sharjah saw three-day blackouts last July as electricity demand in the emirate outstripped supply
Sharjah residents fear blackouts as summer looms
Sharjah port
Sharjah residents fear blackouts as summer looms
Sharjah residents fear blackouts as summer looms
Power cut, blackout, generic

Residents in Sharjah fear a fresh wave of power cuts as
rising temperatures and high power demand strain the emirate’s power grid.

Businesses and tenants in the city said they are preparing
for a repeat of last summer’s three-day long blackouts as electricity demand
threatens to outstrip supply.

“I am apprehensive about the power cuts,” resident Manju
Thampi told Arabian Business. “Summer has started out
pretty strong this year and I am worried about it, especially in
June and July when the heat will be the worst.

“I have friends with babies who are just few months old. I
can only imagine the difficulty that they may go through.”

A second resident who declined to be named said he was
planning for the worst as temperatures in the emirate bypass 40C.

“I am going to be prepared from this month and next because
we will not be given any notice,” he said. 
“Last year we had a couple of power cuts that lasted more than eight
hours a day, divided between the day and night. This is a big problem because
the weather is terribly hot and my mother is at home all day with my nieces,
and at night you can’t sleep without AC.”

His family lives on the eighth floor of a residential
building that does not have back-up generators. During power blackouts, the
lifts stop working.

Sharjah saw up to three-day power outages last July, cutting
out lights, air conditioning and refrigerators and halting lifts in
multi-storey tower blocks. Businesses, shops and hotels in the city lost
thousands of dirhams in business as they were forced to turn away customers,
while hospitals faced a surge in cases of heat exhaustion. Industrial areas
were hardest hit by the blackouts.

Sharjah’s ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi met
with the emirate’s Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) earlier this month to
discuss strategies for avoiding power cuts this summer.

The state-owed utility has also been in talks with schools,
mosques and businesses in the emirate to minimise electricity use and lessen
the power on the grid.

SEWA blamed last year’s blackouts on a “sudden glitch” in
the natural gas pipeline that feeds the emirate’s main power station, cutting
power to parts of the city.

Analysts, however, said the likelihood of blackouts remained
high as the city has failed to add new supply to balance out increased summer
electricity demand.

 “I don’t see any
major improvements for Sharjah this year,” said Abhay Bhargava industry manager
for energy and power systems at consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

“In terms of supply, nothing has really changed from last
year. You have got the Fujairah power plant which has just gone online, but
that is expected to primarily take care of Fujairah.”

The Hamriyah power plant was scheduled for expansion this
year but the plans were delayed, Bhargava said.

“That was supposed to be commissioned in Q2 of this year,
and that would have given the emirate another 1900MW of capacity.”

Demand is also unlikely to decline following growth in
Sharjah’s industrial sectors and free zones, which have high usage

 “Unless they have
additional power coming in from another source, or say temporary power through
diesel gen sets, then they’ll see power cuts again this year,” he said.

SEWA did not respond to requests for comment.

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menon 9 years ago

SEWA should make advance preparation with alternative source to supply power. We have been facing power cuts for the past few summers, and it is really sad to expect another one this summer too.

Biju Appukuttan 9 years ago

Dear SEWA,

Pls dont act as Big boss, if u intent to disturb the power, pls do inform the public..

bugle 9 years ago

If only there was a neighbouring city where there was better infrastucture , a surplus of properties and dropping rents that people could move to....

Ferdinand Marcos 9 years ago

So funny, remember the Sharjah times and the effects for my family until a year ago. Now living in a country with a FRACTION of the costs and LESS powercuts.

Go figure....

Nair 9 years ago

If the summer starts early, then the residents of Sharjah should be preapred for power cuts , go for generator sets.

Red Snappa 9 years ago

The problem with Sharjah is they built a massive amount of residential buildings to increase the rental income in the past 8 years, but failed to build the second level of power supply infrastructure. The existing infrastructure is relatively antique with a few tweaks here and there.

The point is most of the customers in the UAE are expatriates and therefore provide most of the revenue, it is vital that a large percentage of this revenue should be reinvested in utilities in order to encourage them to stay. Also it is not good for the reputation of the country as a whole as a standard of living quality of life indicator. Maybe Abu Dhabi is prepared to invest in bolstering power supply to the grid in the national interest.