Energy and Water Minister Gibran Bassil warned in an interview with a local television channel that Lebanon will experience up to 12-hour power outages this summer if the country does not lease electricity-supplying barges. “We need the barges to solve the electricity problem,” he said in the television interview aired on Al-Manar Friday night. He also noted that with the March 8 coalition in the majority, specifically referring to Amal and Hezbollah, the leaders of the parties had a responsibility to the people who already suffer from chronic power outages. The television segment included video clips from Lebanese on the street being asked what they would say to Bassil, given the chance. Nearly all of those approached complained of excessive power outages and voiced discontent over the government’s inability to provide 24-hour electricity. “If we’re going to solve the problem, we, as a majority, need to do it. We need to answer to the people. They have the right to ask for electricity,” he said. He said that an American company had made the best bid to supply electricity from the barges, which will provide power to homes while the existing plants – in Zahrani, Jounieh and Deir Ammar – undergo maintenance. Leasing barges that would provide electricity through large on-board generators has been one of several options Lebanon has been considering over the past several years to boost electricity production, particularly during the summer months when demand is at a peak. At present, Lebanon’s electricity output is approximately 1,500 MW while consumption is more than 2,500 MW. The extra 1,000 MW is provided by expensive and polluting generators. To make matters worse, repeated breakdowns have taken place at some of the aging power plants due to a lack of proper maintenance.