By Norris Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service
Nov. 8, 2007 - The Qudas electric generation facility in northern Baghdad is getting two new gas turbines that will add 200 megawatts of power to the national grid. A crew of more than 150 Iraqis is involved with the $160 million project, and this month the team is placing 1,000 cubic meters of concrete to create the pedestals where the new turbines will be located. The contractor expects to have the new turbines on line and providing electrical power to Iraq in the spring.
"This is important for Baghdad and the entire country," said Col. Robert Vasta, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We're working directly with the Ministry of Electricity at each step to ensure we're meeting their quality standards and expectations."
Qudas currently has four large turbines and four smaller ones, with a total generating capability of 492 megawatts. The $160 million expansion project will increase that power output 40 percent. One megawatt of electricity is enough to power more than 900 Iraqi homes, so those additional 200 megawatts will affect an additional 180,000 households.
"It's tremendously satisfying to be part of the efforts to rebuild Iraq," Vasta said. "Whether we're renovating a hospital, building a new school, installing water or sewer lines, or overseeing a project like Qudas, it's all part of restoring and improving basic essential services. Iraqis want some normalcy in their lives. It's great to be part of this work."
Iraqi electrical engineer Farooq Hasan is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quality assurance team each day, monitoring the ongoing construction. "The Iraqi crew is there seven days a week, and they know the importance of getting this additional electrical capacity up and running," Hasan said. "Their efforts will benefit all of Iraq."
Mohammad Hassan, a member of the construction crew at Qudas, travels to work each day from his home in a nearby community. "We are all working hard to complete this project as soon as possible," he said. "With God willing, Iraq will eventually have electricity 24 hours a day, and we will live in peace."
(Norris Jones is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Central District.)