GAZA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Gaza's only power plant has resumed operation far sooner than expected after being damaged during last summer's war between Israel and Palestinian militants.
Rafiq Maliha, general director of the facility, told Reuters its generators went back online on Sunday, producing 90 megawatts out of a total potential capacity of 140 MW. The plant provides power to around half of Gaza's 1.8 million people.
The Gaza Company for Generating Electricity, which operates the plant, said an Israeli tank shell hit the main fuel tanks during the war, taking out almost all capacity. It originally estimated that repairs could take as long a year.
While the resumption of power generation will be a welcome relief to Gazans suffering frequent, lengthy power cuts, Maliha said the plant could be switched off again on Tuesday unless more fuel is supplied by the Palestinian Energy Authority.
At peak demand, the Gaza Strip needs around 280 MW of power.
Beyond what is produced locally, Israel supplies around 120 MW by electricity lines and Egypt around 17 MW, meaning there is always a shortage. Most Gaza residents have had to adapt to six hours of electricity a day since the plant stopped.
Sources at the company said they expected rolling blackouts to continue, with power going on and off every eight hours. (Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; editing by Jeffrey Heller)
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