By Roshanak Astaraki

Iranians have used 53,502 megawatts of electricity since the middle of March, a 12.8 percent increase from the same period last year, the Tehran-based Doniya-e-Eghtesad morning newspaper has reported.

Energy experts believe the COVID19 lockdown and stay-at-home order have been the principal reasons for the surge in electricity usage in the country. Many people have been telecommuting in the past few months, working remotely and running their businesses from home.

Electricity consumption usually peaks during the summer months, but it rose significantly during the spring of this year. For every one-degree increase in the temperature chart, the demand for electricity rises by 1,500 megawatts.

Consumers have been urged not to use laundry machines, dishwashers, and steam irons, to set their air conditioners at low levels and their thermostats at 14 degrees centigrade between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., the peak time for electricity usage.

The Tehran Power Distribution Company introduced a reward scheme in Tehran’s District-8 in early May, offering a discount to residents who reduced their power usage by 10 percent. The company said it would not issue a bill to consumers who dropped their electricity usage by 50 percent.

“Electricity usage for those who work from home has doubled,” Ali Bakhshi, a member of the board of directors of Iran Electrical Industry Syndicate, was quoted by Doniya-e-Eghtesad as saying. “Remote working has increased power usage for homes, offices, and businesses. Teleworking has caused a surge in electricity consumption across the board.”

“Many people, institutions, and businesses use remote work systems which individually use little power but together put a strain on the power grid,” Mr. Bakhshi noted. “Telecommuting requires two remote work systems, one at home and the other in the office, which significantly increases electricity usage. That is the reason for the surge in power consumption in May.”

“A sudden surge in electricity consumption can put pressure on the national power grid and cause various technical problems,” Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, the spokesman for the Iran Grid Management Company, was quoted by Doniya-e-Eghtesad as saying. “The capacity of the national power grid has increased to 83,000 megawatts. The project to overhaul all power stations is 90 percent complete. The remaining repair works were suspended because of the coronavirus lockdown and cash shortage.”

“We hope to complete the repair works by June 21,” Mr. Mashhadi added.

This article was translated and adapted from Persian by Fardine Hamidi.

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