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American Forces Press Service

Engineers Bring Light to Fallujah

By Scott Harris
Special to American Forces Press Service

FALLUJAH, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2010 – More than 22 miles of roadway here and in surrounding communities are now fully lighted with 1,200 solar powered street lights, thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District.

The third and final phase of the project was completed recently by project engineers at Al-Anbar Resident Office, based in Ramadi.

“The administration of this project is an excellent example of USACE’s commitment to building Iraq’s technical capacity,” said Army Maj. Joseph Geary, officer in charge of the resident office. Iraqi engineers employed by Gulf Region District were key liaisons with local electrical department representatives and city leaders, Geary noted.

The project engineer was Nasir Elias, an Iraqi civil engineer who has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than three years. He was assisted by Iraqi quality-assurance representatives Mohammed Kasim Abbas and Hussein al-Jaboree.

Solar power is widely recognized as a method for reducing the reliance on carbon-based energy generation and the resulting greenhouse gasses held responsible for global climate change. Solar power in Iraq, however, has a more palpable benefit. Iraq’s degraded power distribution infrastructure causes frequent and unexpected outages. Unlike Iraq’s electrical power grid, officials explained, the sun is a near constant.

In a country with limited power-generation capabilities, solar lights allow energy to be redistributed to areas of critical need. In an area where hard-wired lights may operate only for a couple of hours, a solar-powered light will provide continuous illumination through the night.

The final phase of the project was completed Dec. 28 at a cost of $2.9 million.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Since 2004, USACE has completed 5,257 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $9.1 billion, and has more than 350 projects ongoing. The overall reconstruction effort in Iraq currently provides jobs for more than 20,000 Iraqis.

(Scott Harris works in Gulf Region District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iraq.)

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