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Unreliable, inefficient and expensive electricity is a huge drag on Lebanon’s economy and a root cause of the deepening financial crisis that has sparked protests all across the country . Lebanon is subsidizing the electricity utility company at the rate of about $2 Billion a year , but the company EDL has not been able to provide the power needed . Daily blackouts that last at least 20 hours are common in Lebanon [File: Andrea Prada Bianchi & Sergio Colombo/Al Jazeera]

Electricity of Lebanon, ( EDL) says activists stormed key substation and disconnected equipment, causing major disruptions amid ongoing crisis

Lebanon’s state electricity company , Electricity of Lebanon, ( EDL) said Saturday that its power plants had stopped working after protesters stormed a key substation and tampered with the electrical equipment.

“Protesters disconnected a 150-220 kilovolt power transformer and opened circuit breakers connecting the Zahrani power plant to the Aramoun station,” it said.

Demonstrators angered by the blackouts stormed the Electricite du Liban substation in the Aramoun region north of Beirut on Saturday, EDL said in a statement

“This caused disturbances on the electrical grid… which led to a total blackout across Lebanese territory as of 17:27 (1527 GMT).”

File photo : An aerial view shows Lebanon’s capital Beirut in darkness during power outage on April 3, 2021. – As Lebanon battles its worst financial crisis in decades, the local currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value on the black market. Even the country’s once richest city council says it is struggling to maintain its streets, as the economic squeeze puts pressure on already rundown infrastructure. (Photo by Dylan COLLINS / AFP) (Photo by DYLAN COLLINS/AFP via Getty Images)

Eyewitnesses claim electricity was also temporarily cut off at the international airport in Beirut.

The disruption will pile more pressure on private generators that are already struggling to keep up with the near-total absence of state power.

Private generator owners have hiked prices and rationed supply in recent months, with costs surging after the government gradually lifted fuel subsidies.

The average generator bill for a Lebanese family usually costs more than the monthly minimum wage of 675,000 Lebanese pounds — now worth just $22 on the black market , as the local currency hits record lows against the dollar

The international community has long demanded a complete overhaul of Lebanon’s ruinous electricity sector, which has cost the government more than $40 billion in subsidies since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Lebanon has reached an agreement on bringing Jordanian electricity and Egyptian gas into the country via war-torn Syria, while Shiite movement Hezbollah has separately started hydrocarbon deliveries from Iran

The small Mediterranean country is already grappling with round-the-clock power cuts that last at least 20 hours a day due to a financial crisis that has hampered key imports, including fuel for power stations.

The situation has hindered the functioning of state institutions, hospitals, and factories.

AFP

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