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Electricity Overload Sparks Talk Of Shutting Down Iranian Cities

A general view of the electricity power plant in Iran.

The governor of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan Province has warned that electricity consumption in the province has reached an “alert” level and that it could be necessary to at least partially shut down the cities for 20 to 30 days during the summer to tackle the problem.

“Consuming 8,220 megawatts of electricity per day in the province is a matter of real concern,” Governor-General Gholamreza Shariati said while addressing Khuzestan’s Management Council on July 19, according to the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA).

This summer high temperatures in Khuzestan have broken records. Many days in row, Ahvaz, the largest city experienced temperatures close to 50 C.

An increase in electricity consumption of 11 percent to 14 percent in Khuzestan is unprecedented, and “utmost care is needed in using electricity,” he said.

Shariati reiterated that he would follow up the idea of closing or partially closing down cities in Khuzestan. Several European cities do the same during the summer, when almost everything closes for 20 days to a month, and people only go about their necessary daily routines.

At the same session, Khuzestan Regional Electricity Company Managing Director Mahmoud Dashtbozorg cautioned about excessive electricity consumption.

“The record of electricity use in Khuzestan was broken four times during Tir Mah (June 21-July 21), and it’s highly worrying,” he said. “Fifteen percent of Iran’s electricity power is used in Khuzestan, which nationwide puts it at second place after Tehran.”

Frequent power cuts have been reported in Ahvaz and Abadan in recent days.

Last month, female students at a local university gathered to protest a lack of air-conditioning in their dormitories after authorities failed to fix the broken systems.

Power cuts have reached such a level in Khuzestan that hardly a day goes by without people demonstrating against the issue.

The protests have forced authorities to ban any demonstrations in front of the governor’s office in the province’s capital, Ahvaz.