photo by James Gordon
Baghdad may not be able to provide city residents enough electricity from the grid to keep the lights on in people's homes and businesses for more than half the day, but the streetlights may soon may have a more reliable source of power. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Iraqi Electricity Ministry and the U.S. military are in the process of installing solar-powered street lighting throughout the capital.
Security Impetus For Solar Lighting
The Electricity ministry will be installing 5,000 of the lights at a cost of about $2,000 a piece, while the 1,000 being installed by the army have a price tag of $6,200 each due to the fact that they are bulletproof. Considering that increasing security is the main impetus behind the installation—besides the obvious benefit of added illumination, having the lights not tied to the grid means it will be harder for insurgents to disable large sections of illumination—the added cost of bulletproofing the lights may well be worth it.
Public reaction to the plan has been mixed. The article quotes one grocery store owner who says that the lights allow him to stay open late, but another small business owner points out, "Even if the streets are lit, if there is no electricity and our store is dark, no one can see us. What we really need is good national power."