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Iran’s Rouhani apologises for power cuts, blames heat

Iranians are enduring sweeping power blackouts, which authorities blame on high temperatures and a drought which have driven up demand and curtailed hydroelectric power generation

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani apologised Wednesday for sweeping blackouts, blaming a searing drought he said had sharply driven up demand and virtually halted hydroelectric power generation.

Since last week, Tehran and Iran’s other major cities have experienced frequent power outages that authorities say may continue until late July.

Tehran resident Azam, a hairdresser, said she holds the government responsible for failing to “provide the basics” like electricity.

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“All our business requires electricity, and this (outage) has disrupted our life,” said private company employee Hamid.

“We regret the problems the people have had in the past few days,” Rouhani said in televised remarks at a cabinet meeting mostly dedicated to the power cuts, which have sparked a chorus of complaints.

He attributed the surge in demand to “industrial growth and extreme heat” as well as energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining operations.

– ‘Unprecedented drought’ –

He called on the energy ministry to prevent any cuts outside of the scheduled blackouts of at least two hours a day.

“The result is having no capital, and then big projects cannot be done,” he told the cabinet. “Who would want to invest when the country’s risk goes up?”

The crisis has also sharply reduced infrastructure investment by the government, said Coville, who added “it is no coincidence that we are starting to see power cuts in Iran.”

Ardakanian had offered a similar apology in May, when Iran introduced planned, rolling blackouts after Tehran and other cities were hit by unannounced power cuts.

The cuts also raised concerns about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Iran, as Tehran’s anti-coronavirus committee chief warned against health centres losing power while the capital struggles to contain a new wave of the virus.

Power cuts are not uncommon during Iran’s hot summers, when the rising temperatures lead to a spike in the use of air-conditioning.

Iran’s meteorological office forecast the extreme heat would continue until Friday, with highs of 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tehran and 51 degrees (124 degrees) in Ahvaz in the southwest.

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