Editorial: Investing in power distribution network

Last Updated on Tuesday, 8 August, 2023 at 11:48 am by Andre Camilleri

The government said it will be expediting its investment in the energy distribution sector.

In a meeting with the social partners forming the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that, instead of the €15 million which was planned to be spent in 2024, the government will now be investing €30 million.

Enemalta had planned a €15 million expense every year for six years, for a total of €90 million. The investment will now be speeded up to limit power problems as much as possible.

The government is reacting to a spate of power cuts which have hit the islands in the past weeks. The extraordinary high temperatures that we had for 10 days in a row led to a series of power interruptions in various parts of Malta, according to Enemalta.

Abela has said that the effects of climate change are being felt earlier than anticipated, and this is why the government has thought it fit to bring forward its investment plans. Added to this, it will be forming a new authority to address issues related to climate change.

For one thing, it took quite a while for the government to understand the threats that this phenomenon was bringing about – weather extremes pushed further apart, with the result that we are having more heat waves which last longer and then, in the cooler months, bigger storms.

It was in 2008 that a climate change agency was first proposed and now, 15 years later, we are still talking about its formation. After the government’s announcement regarding the setting up of the authority, management consultant David Spiteri Gingell said that the blueprint for such an agency has been in existence for many years.

“It is tragic how this country goes round in circles,” Spiteri Gingell said. “In 2008 I chaired a committee of experts on climate change and mitigation, and later on climate change and adaptation. We strongly recommended the setting up of a Malta Climate Change Agency under the then-new Public Administration Act to drive the implementation of measures proposed in both strategies.”

The Opposition had also filed a parliamentary motion in 2019 to set up a permanent commission to scrutinise actions on climate change. So the government may be acting on this rather late in the day.

But the stress on energy is not only as a result of climate change. The growing population in Malta – a staggering addition of 100,000 living on the islands in the last decade – has increased the demand for power. Where a house in which four people lived once stood there is a block of apartments which is accommodating 30 to 35 people, if not more. Even this is creating problems in the power distribution network. Sadly, in the rush to see economic growth through population increase, the Labour government did not foresee the effects of such a policy.

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