Short Circuits: Why Lebanon’s electricity sector is still broken

Infrastructure, political, and legal barriers to reforming Lebanon's broken electricity sector.
Editorial Staff

November 29, 2022

Why doesn’t my electricity work?

At the start of this month, Lebanon’s residents woke up to the dubious news that Electricité du Liban (EDL) was increasing its tariffs – and for the first time since the 1990s. Controversial though the announcement was, the price hike promises to partially narrow EDL’s yawning deficit and unlock critical World Bank financing for a gas and electricity deal between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.  

With that said, price hikes are no silver bullet for Lebanon’s myriad electricity woes. Where do you even begin? 

Our infographic below simplifies the mess by framing the crisis around three crucial problems–infrastructure, politics, and the law–and the consequences that each of these generates. Our hope is that by understanding Lebanon’s messy electricity problems, we can collectively begin to solve them. 

1. Infrastructure

Lebanon’s electricity has to be generated, transmitted, and consumed – all of which require substantial investment and maintenance backed up by long-term financial plans. But Lebanon’s electricity infrastructure has been neglected for years, and the outcomes are visible to the naked eye. 

2. Politics 

Governance of the Lebanese grid has been snared in the bear-trap of party politics since the end of the civil war. Instead of being governed by a neutral, independent regulator, the EDL has been governed directly by the Ministry of Energy and Water, meaning that its recruitment, training, and tariff-setting policies have all been subject to Lebanon’s byzantine political process. 

3. Law

Lebanon’s electricity laws are in need of a major makeover. First and foremost, Lebanon needs a renewable energy law to govern the energy transition. But it also needs to move beyond the old, EDL-enforced monopoly set down by Law 288/2014 and 129/2019. Guided by a competition law that is fit for purpose, renewable energy companies could build solar parks and coastal wind turbines to rival the country’s decomposing diesel plants.  

Okay, those are the problems – so how about some solutions? 

In Lebanon, of course, it is easy to diagnose problems without offering alternatives. In pursuit of our aim to build the future Lebanon based on reliable, clean energy for all citizens, Triangle has also detailed proposals for Lebanon’s renewable energy transition, green economic recovery, climate change adaptation strategy, and weaning off its fuel importer cartel