New generators switch Lebanese village on to 24-hour electricity

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In a country where erratic electricity supply is a problem every citizen faces daily, the small southern Lebanese village of Kherbet Silm has found a way to generate its own 24-hour power for its residents.

The village, 104 kilometers away from Beirut, has become the first to provide its residents with non-stop electricity and save them long hours of blackouts and high priced private generator subscriptions.

The municipality of Kherbet Silm decided it had a duty to its residents to come up with a solution.

“We started this project after we noticed the suffering of the people with regards to the electricity, the frequent breakdowns in electricity or the difficult blackout. So we started studies into this project and it took us time but fortunately, thank God it worked and we took the decision to go with this project, and we are not an alternative to the electricity company or the state, but as a municipality we have obligations towards the people too,” Hassan Dbouk, deputy mayor of the village told Reuters.

The council decided to buy two large generators that would provide all the residents with alternative power when the electricity company cut it off.

Dbouk insisted the municipality was not trying to play the state's or electricity company's role but was providing an interim solution for the village.

“This project, as I said before, is not an alternative, but when the electricity comes 24 hours, we've succeeded in winning what people want, 24 hours of electricity. So meanwhile the state provides us with 24 hours of electricity, we provide it ourselves,” continued Dbouk.

Residents of Kherbet Silm pay around 700 Lebanese pounds ($0.46) for every 1KW (Kilo Watt) of power, with residents usually paying between 20,000 and 80,000 ($13-$53) a month, depending on their usage, Dbouk said.

A private electricity subscription cannot cost less than $100 a month for basic usage.

“This is a very good step, more than 1000 houses benefited from this step. There is no alternative for this step because there is a lot of suffering when it comes to electricity. Electricity should reach us for a minimum of 12 hours but we are not getting it for more than two hours in 24 hours. In this project, there is a great achievement, shops and houses benefit from it, many people suffered a lot due to this issue,'' said Kherbet Silm notary, Khalil Cherry.

One of the village residents, Hassan al-Majed, who owns a chicken shop, agreed with Cherri.

“This achievement is helpful for all the village, and all the region should adopt it. As you can see, you can't work at all without electricity, we have a fridge, home, etc,.. especially the fridge - concerning the chicken, it would all have to be thrown away if this municipality's project didn't exist, we would have had a big loss every day,” Al-Majed said.

Residents say the new service is good value and are happy to pay the extra amount in exchange for guaranteed power and the benefits it brings.

Electricity in Lebanon is cut off for a minimum of three hours a day in the capital, Beirut, and can reach up to 18 hours of blackouts in the more remote country provinces.