One of the most frequent complaints among Iraqis is the lack of electricity that has been widespread ever since the US invasion in 2003.  After the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein rapidly restored basic services such as electricity, but for various reasons, it has proven extremely difficult for the US to restore electricity services, and over the past eight years, most Iraqis have used back-up home generators to deal with the intermittent service available.

This week it was announced that the US has spent $4.6 billion to restore electricity — including renovating plants, buying power from outside the country and fixing transmission lines.  The total supply of electricity is now approaching 8000 megawatts, which is nearly double what was available before the war.

However, the demand still far outstrips supply — with Iraqis wanting 15,000 megawatts.  This is partly because most Iraqi consumers pay little or nothing for electricity — it is virtually free.   Thus the US taxpayer is not only paying to rebuild the grid, but is effectively subsidizing the electricity supply for Iraqis.

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