American Forces Press Service
May 29, 2008 - Northern Iraqi leaders came together for an energy conference at Contingency Operating Base Spiecher in the province of Salahuddin yesterday. The conference covered the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity within the northern region of Iraq.
All four northern provinces -- Tamim, Diyala, Salahuddin and Ninevah -- had official representation at the conference, and they all spoke on their areas within the region.
Officials also represented three Kurdish provinces: Sulaimaniyah, Irbil and Dahuk.
The Iraqi Minister of Electricity, Iraqi military leaders and coalition soldiers were in attendance to bring awareness of the energy issues and to develop possible means for resolving some of the lingering problems northern Iraqis are facing with their electricity deficit.
Maj. Gen. Salahadin Mustafa Kamal el-Qradg, commander of 4th Iraqi Army Division, spoke about the Iraqi army military capabilities and the security issues around the electricity plants.
"Things are certainly getting better," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Butch Graham, division engineer for Task Force Iron and Multinational Division North.
Northern Iraqi oil companies produced nearly 20 billion barrels of oil in April. Exported barrels earned more than $1.5 billion for the Iraqi people.
"These efforts have been critical to keeping the power plants running, industries producing, and the home cooking stoves lit," Graham said.
With many questions and ideas for long- and short-term plans batted back and forth between the attendees, there were concerns of financial strain on the provinces and security restraints. Military and government leaders and engineers spoke about interim solutions to the energy issues while the Iraqi provinces work to grow their larger generation plants.
"We have an unbelievable opportunity in this point in the history of Iraq, not to be penny wise and megawatt poor, so if we can tolerate a little inefficiency for the next two years, there is a risk of growing Iraq and bringing this nation together," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Tony Thomas, deputy commander of Multinational Division North. "I would say that this would be money well spent."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)