[Dec 15 – 2020]: EDZ contract is set to expire by end of year, and the parliament hasn’t met yet to renew it, which is exactly what many were worried about two years ago. In other words, Zahle will face major blackouts (just like the rest of Lebanon) if EDZ’s contract doesn’t get renewed in the next two weeks.
Yesterday, the parliament decided against extending the old concession EDZ had been given and instead endorsed a two-year operation contract. For those of you who don’t know, EDZ was established in 1927 and is the only company in Lebanon that has a license to produce and distribute electricity, it is currently providing 24/7 electricity to over 250,000 inhabitants. Its authority stretches beyond Zahle to include 15 other municipalities. Collection is almost 100% and bills are 30-40% lower than previous ones (with EDL and generators).
The real problem for EDL was that EDZ was being managed privately and that the old concession was as from the Ottoman age (renewed during the French Mandate). Also, EDZ and some parties were arguing against the pricing set by EDZ claiming that Zahle residents were being overcharged.
What Will Happen Now?
Lebanese Caretaker Energy Ministry has promised that 24/7 electricity coverage in Zahle would continue at a lower cost for the residents (starting January), and that there was no other plan in place had the contract expired.
Moreover, EDZ’s administration and employees would all remain the same, but it all comes back to what the man behind EDZ Assaad Nakad wishes to do at this point.
Personally speaking, it does make sense to stop such archaic concessions and bring back EDZ under EDL’s wing, but I am not sure it’s a wise move given how chaotic the electricity situation is in this country. We’re looking at two more years with EDZ then who knows what will happen? And who can guarantee the service will remain the same with a new Energy Minister or even with the current one? or if Nakad decides to step down? or if any issues arise with EDZ that EDL cannot fix?
It doesn’t come as a surprise to see the majority of Zahle MPs opposing this decision, so let’s really hope it will not mess this 24/7 electricity dream Zahle residents have been enjoying for three years now.