Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid, according to an Associated Press report.

Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari said power generation nationally is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over a period of two days last week. The AP story said the shortages across the country were the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, according to al-Shimari.

The AP reported that power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.

The national power grid became decrepit under Saddam Hussein because his regime was under U.N. sanctions after the Gulf War and had trouble buying spare parts or equipment to upgrade the system, the AP said.

One of the biggest problems facing the national grid is the move by provinces to disconnect their power plants from the system, reducing the overall amount of electricity being generated for the entire country, the AP reported. Provinces say they have no choice because they are not getting as much electricity in return for what they produce, mainly because the capital requires so much power.