The mounting demand for LPG use in individual households has been matched by a similar increase in the demand for electricity- -a factor of the rapid rate of national development and housing construction. Overall energy consumption throughout the country quadrupled between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, largely as a result of government efforts to complete the rural electrification program and extend the domestic gas network. The National Company for Electricity and Gas (Société Nationale de l'Électricité et du Gaz--Sonelgaz) was the state utility company responsible for producing and distributing electric power and gas. Sonelgaz estimated that the country's low- and mediumtension power network would reach almost 350,000 kilometers by 2005, compared with 102,000 kilometers in 1987 (the latest figure available in 1993).
Before independence in 1962, almost half of Algeria's electricity was generated by hydroelectric power; three decades later only 7 percent of capacity was hydroelectric. The main sources of electricity generation are located at Algiers, Annaba, and Oran. Kabylie has a group of small hydroelectric stations. Most production plants had converted from coal to gas by the early 1980s.
In its search for alternative energy sources, the government established the Commissariat for New Energy (Commissariat aux Énergies Nouvelles) in 1982 to develop nuclear energy, solar energy, and other potential sources of power. Whereas solar power was proving to have considerable potential, particularly in desert locations, nuclear power may become a casualty of international concerns and allegations that it could be used for military purposes.
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