* Iraq doubles price of electricity
* Power cuts chief complaint of Iraqis
By Aseel Kami
BAGHDAD, June 1 (Reuters) - Iraqis on Tuesday began receiving electricity bills containing 100 percent tariff increases following a decision in April aimed at encouraging consumers to economise and help tackle crippling power cuts.
Electricity demand has risen since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, but the national grid still only supplies a few hours of power per day, a cause of discontent in a country that sits atop some of the world’s biggest oil reserves.
The Electricity Ministry said that from June 1 it would issue bills for the previous two months based on a new scale by which the price of a kilowatt/hour increases according to consumer usage.
“The price will be cumulative, so in order to avoid a high bill the consumer should decrease his consumption,” said Deputy Electricity Minister Raad al-Haris.
The price has doubled from 10 to 20 Iraqi dinars per kilowatt/hour for the first 1000 kWh, or to the equivalent of less than $0.02.
The rumble of expensive diesel generators has become a fixture of daily life, and observers say failure to quickly fix supplies has been a major factor in the erosion of public support for the U.S. occupation and the Iraqi government.
Consumers will pay 50 dinars per kWh for between 1000 and 2000 kWh, 80 dinars for between 2000 and 3000 kwh, 100 dinars for up to 4000 kWh and 135 dinars for consumption beyond 4000 kWh.
“It will increase the fees but it will not increase the power supply,” disgruntled Iraqi Saja Nazar, a civil servant, said on Tuesday in Baghdad. “It will place a new burden on us. Where will we get the money from?”
Greater purchasing power in Iraq since 2003 has brought greater demand for electricity, straining Iraq’s current production of 9,000 megawatts. The Electricity Ministry estimates demand at 12,000 megawatts.
They have the potential to boost the capacity of the power grid by a further 11,000 megawatts. (Editing by Matt Robinson and Keiron Henderson)