The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) is the national electricity company of Liberia, wholly owned by the Government of Liberia (GOL).
Until 1960 the provision of electricity services was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. In 1960 the Government of Liberia established the Monrovia Power Authority. After two years, the responsibility for supplying electricity was transferred to the Public Utility Authority (PUA), which was also responsible for telecommunications, broadcasting, and water supply. On July 12, 1973, the PUA was transformed by a legislative act into three different corporations dedicated to communications, water and sewage, and electricity. Among those, the LEC received the mandate to oversee the country’s generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. LEC became autonomous in February 1976, when the Public Utilities Authority was dissolved.
Historically, most of LEC’s staff and other resources were dedicated to serving the capital, Monrovia, which consumed 98% of all power. The Monrovia grid operated at 69 kilovolts (kV) and included three radial lines extending into the country. In addition, there were eleven small isolated power systems operated by LEC to supply electricity to cities and towns located along the coast and in rural areas. The installed capacity of the rural electrification program totaled 13 megawatts (MW), and distribution lines stretched 90 miles, with an additional 26 miles of low-voltage service lines.
Until 2013, Liberia never had inter-ties with neighboring countries. In late 2013, Liberia received medium-voltage power in three counties bordering Ivory Coast as part of cross-border power exchange under the West African Power Pool (WAPP). The cross-border interconnection is managed by LEC.
Prior to the escalation of civil conflict in 1987, LEC’s total nameplate installed capacity was around 190 MW, which supported a peak demand of 63 MW. Electricity was mainly provided in the capital of Monrovia, where the Corporation served around 35,000 customers by 1989. Generation was a mix of hydropower, heavy fuel oil (HFO), and diesel. The small isolated rural systems were powered by diesel plants ranging from 300 kilowatts (kW) to 1,300 kW. The total installed electricity generation capacity, including the private sector, was about 412 MW. The private sector generation, largely mining companies, also consisted of hydropower, heavy fuel oil, and diesel. During the war, the Monrovia Grid and all rural systems outside of Monrovia were largely destroyed.
When H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration came into power in January 2006, LEC was virtually non-existent as was its power grid and generation facilities. Part of the President’s 150-day plan in 2006 included installing street lighting and connecting a small number of customers in downtown areas—she coined the energy initiative “small light today, big light tomorrow.”
In response, from June 2006 to November 2009, an international donor consortium consisting of USAID, the European Commission, the World Bank, the Republic of Ghana, and the Government of Norway, formulated and implemented a multi-phase Emergency Power Program. In 2007, with 2 megawatts (MW) of imported generators, the Liberia Electricity Corporation was revived and started commercial operation with 450 customers and a row of street lights for the first time since the war. The EPP projects eventually delivered 10 megawatts of power generation capacity to the LEC and installed 80 km of an initial transmission and distribution network. Between 2013 and 2016, following receipt of additional support from USAID, the Government of Norway, the World Bank, and the European Union, LEC had an installed capacity of 22.6 MW of high-speed diesel generation. In 2016 the utility added 38 MW of heavy fuel oil (HFO) capacity at its Bushrod substation, and its transmission and distribution grid covered much of Monrovia. During 2017-8 LEC began constructing new transmission and distribution projects to expand the grid further in Monrovia as well as into neighboring counties (Bomi and Margibi).
In mid-2018, LEC has a growing customer base of over 50,000, most of whom are connected to the network via pre-paid meters. Pre-paid metering has helped to reduce power theft and sustain the commercial operations of the utility.
Further information, including how to get connected to LEC, can be found by visiting LEC’s Web site or their headquarters in Waterside, Monrovia.