Afghanistan’s $335 Million Power Plant Is a Waste of Space
America built a power plant Kabul barely uses
Afghanistan imports a lot of its energy from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which is expensive. To help the country and its energy-hungry capital generate its own power, the United States Agency for International Development forked over $335 million to build a fancy new power plant.
But according to a new report from John Sopko–the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction–Kabul barely uses the building.
… the USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG) found previously that between July 2010 and December 2013, the plant only produced about 63,000 megawatt hours of power, just 2.2 percent of its production capacity during that period. Our analysis of the more recent data provided by your office shows that the rate of power production has actually declined over time. Specifically, from February 2014 through April 2015, the plant exported just 8,846 megawatt hours of power to the Kabul grid, which is less than one percent of Tarakhil’s production capacity during that period.
This plant cost American taxpayers more than $300 million dollars, yet most of its 18 diesel generators sit unused. What’s more damning is that Afghanistan–and Kabul especially–are in dire need of more power. In February 2015, avalanches wiped out much of the power grid the country used to import energy from the north. And yet …
In addition to running far below its full capacity, the plant contributes a relatively small amount of electricity to the power grid serving Kabul. From February 2014 through April 2015, the Tarakhil Power Plant produced only 0.34 percent of the total power on the Kabul grid.
When Afghanistan’s people needed it most, the plant generated less than half of one percent of its full capacity.