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Kahramaa confirms power outage in Dafna

The power went out for many residents in Dafna yesterday due to a fault with a transmission network, Qatar’s utilities provider has confirmed.

In a series of tweets about the outage yesterday, Kahramaa said that it was able to restore electricity to the area within a few hours. It did not clarify how many people were affected, but added that anyone still experiencing trouble should call 991.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

orangefan_2011/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

After spending several years asking residents to take shorter showers and turn off lights that aren’t in use, officials have said conservation efforts in Qatar are starting to show results.

Between April 2012 and November 2015, per-person electricity use declined 14 percent, Kahramaa officials said last night at an event to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the utility’s National Program for Conservation and Energy Efficiency, Tarsheed.

Similarly, per-person water consumption fell by 17 percent during the same period, according to Kahramaa.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani said, according to the Peninsula:

“Energy conservation is a religious, national and moral responsibility of all people in this country. There is no alternative to preserving natural resources for us and for the coming generations.”

In a bid to continue reducing power and water usage, all residents will be sent monthly text messages advising them of the amount of electricity and water they used and what the recommended amounts would be for their building, Kahramaa President Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari announced last night.

Uneven results

Qatar has long been saddled with the reputation of being one of the highest per-capita electricity and water users on the planet.

While the government quietly raised prices last fall – leading some larger facilities, such as shopping malls, to cut power consumption – the government’s efforts to promote conservation has largely been restricted to public awareness campaigns and a threat of fines for water wastage.

A Kahramaa spokesperson declined to elaborate on how figures showing a reduction in the per-person use of electricity and water were calculated when contacted by Doha News.

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Lesley Walker

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In September 2014, Kahramaa said it had been caught off-guard by the “great and unexpected increase” in electricity demand that year.

An analysis of electricity use and water production figures published by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics suggest conservation efforts have produced uneven results over the last year.

While per-person electricity use was down 7.6 percent, year-over-year, in July, it also increased 5.25 percent in November.

Similarly, Qatar residents used 5.35 percent less water in June, but per-capita water production jumped 17.05 percent in January 2015, compared to a year earlier.

Thoughts?

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Muhammad Kamran Qureshi

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Though electricity bills went up across Qatar last fall, the government still covers an average of 45 percent of our energy consumption, according to credit ratings agency Moody’s.

But that may not be the case for much longer, as Qatar faces fresh pressure to cut spending amid its first deficit in 15 years.

In a new report, Moody’s said the typical Qatar household pays an average of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), even though that costs 4.2 cents to generate, the Gulf Times states.

That means the government covers US1.9 cents for every kWh consumed by residential users.

Using 2014 consumption figures published in media reports citing Moody’s, that adds up to $641.9 million in subsidies, or some 5 percent of the $12.78 billion deficit Qatar is projected to run this year.

High subsidy bill

Qatar’s overall subsidy bill is much higher than that, as the government also subsidizes electricity for industrial and commercial users, as well as water consumption and petrol.

New Woqod petrol station

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

New Woqod petrol station

Subsidies have long been regarded as a drag on the balance sheets of GCC countries. However, Moody’s is one of the first publications to quantify some of the specific costs.

The agency is one of several organizations encouraging Qatar and the GCC countries to curb subsidies as low oil prices erode government revenues.

In a 2014 paper, the IMF argued that discounting prices for electricity, fuel and other consumer goods are an inefficient way of sharing a country’s wealth with residents because it disproportionately benefits well-off individuals with large homes and vehicles.

Options

Theoretically, Qatar could maintain its subsidies and run deficits for several years, covering the shortfall by liquidating assets held by its sovereign wealth fund.

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Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But the government has previously said it would prefer to borrow money and leave its savings untouched.

Still, earlier this month, Moody’s warned that it could downgrade Qatar’s government bonds – which would raise the country’s borrowing costs – unless officials produce a credible and sustainable way of cutting expenses.

In September, Qatar’s finance minister said the government has no plans to reduce consumer subsidies.

However, local utility firm Kahramaa quietly raised prices for electricity and water last fall. More recently, petrol prices were hiked up in January.

Elsewhere, some other user fees have gone up, including the rates for sending parcels and renting a PO Box from Qatar Post.

Thoughts?