However, output remains significantly below installed capacity of 9,634 MW. The majority of this potential output is located in the country’s eight large-scale thermal plants, which at full output could produce 5,015 MW of power. Gas turbines account for 2,189 MW and hydro stations for a further 2,430 MW of nameplate capacity.

Bechtel of the US has devoted the majority of funds in its $680 million capital reconstruction contract to rehabilitating the power network. A further $350 million was added to the programme in August to help bolster the work, which had at that point failed to significantly increase output. Power outages have continued to hinder reconstruction efforts throughout the summer.

The US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) was also brought in to work on the power programme. Its scope is primarily to restore local generation facilities in the regions and work closely with a team of engineers from the Coalition Provisional Authority to rebuild the transmission network, which has continued to prove vulnerable to sabotage and looting.

According to a recently released UN/World Bank needs assessment, work to restore the country’s power network will require over $2,000 million of funding in 2004. The long-term rehabilitation of the sector could cost more than $6,000 million. USAID has allocated the majority of funds earmarked under its $1,300 million Iraq reconstruction 2 contract to further restoring power infrastructure.

In its report for the implementation of the next phase, Bechtel recommends the full rehabilitation of the stations that will deliver the greatest immediate increase in output and reliability. This includes significant work to restore the giant 1,320-MW Baiji plant, beginning with returning the plant’s fifth unit to full operability. In addition, Bechtel recommends installing smaller generation units of up to 5 MW for specific needs at Umm Qasr port and Baghdad International Airport and 50-MW units to support domestic supply in Baghdad.

More support is to be given to the Commission of Electricity to help fully restore the national grid. According to the commission, only eight of the 17 400-kV transmission lines destroyed during the war have been repaired, while of the 746 high-voltage towers that collapsed, only 102 have so far been repaired. Repair work on the 132-kV network has restored 79 of the 98 lines, while 96 of the 262 132-kV towers that were damaged have been rebuilt.