Gaza’s Sole Power Plant to Shut Down in Ongoing Energy Crisis

Gaza's power plant was bombed by Israel in 2014. (Photo: via Al-Jazeera)

Gaza’s sole power plant will stop running Monday evening as it is unable to cover taxes imposed by the national unity government, Gaza’s energy authority said.

The unity government waved the tax in a show of good will in the four months to the end of Ramadan, but the Gazan energy authority said in a statement Monday that since the tax has been reinstated it can no longer afford to keep the plant running.

The energy authority added that it had only been able cover the cost of maintaining the plant during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and following Eid holiday by borrowing from local companies and taking loans from banks.

The tax imposed on fuel before it is sold to Gaza amounts to a 50 percent price hike on the price of fuel per liter, or 3.5 shekels ($0.91), the statement said.

Gaza is facing an ongoing energy crisis, with residents of the coastal enclave provided only a fraction of the energy needed.

Earlier on Monday, 25 percent of the coastal enclave’s energy supply was cut off when two power gridsrun by Israel shut down due to a technical error.

Gaza currently receives electricity from Israel, Egypt, and its power plant, although the plant has struggled to cover costs for months.

It was nearly forced to close toward the end of May following a dispute with the Palestinian petroleum authority in Ramallah, although the issue was later apparently resolved.

Earlier this year, the power plant closed down for more than a month in March when the Gazan energy authority was unable to pay the taxes.

The amount had previously been covered by Qatar, which in December donated $10 million to the PA to cover the tax.

Although the power plant inside Gaza has a potential output of 120 MW, it has been unable to produce that much due to Israeli restrictions on fuel imports as part of an eight-year blockade.

The Gaza plant generally produces around 60 MW.

Last summer the plant was targeted during the 50-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, completely knocking it out of commission. The Gaza power authority said at the time that the damages from the attack could take up to a year to fix completely.

Gaza suffers 12 hours of power outages each day. Many individual homes have their own generators, and households can purchase extremely expensive fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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