Editorial: Not another summer of power cuts

Last Updated on Monday, 24 June, 2024 at 10:48 pm by Andre Camilleri

When last Sunday, soon after the Euro 2024 game between Denmark and Slovenia started, power was lost in most of Malta and Gozo, the first thing that came to many people’s minds was: “Not again?”

Summer has not yet started, there is no heat wave, and yet the country is without power. What is it this time? Didn’t they say that Malta had enough capacity and that millions of euros had been invested in the power distribution network? Didn’t the Prime Minister say that the government was doubling the amount of money to speed up the work on improving the network? So why is this happening again? Will we have to go through hours, if not a whole day and more, without electricity? Is it the first of a string of power cuts similar to the ones that hit the country last year?

Last Sunday’s power cuts brought all this up in the minds of many people. Thankfully, in many localities power was restored within an hour or so.

We were told, by Enemalta, that it was not a question of overloading or problems in the distribution network. What happened – we emphasise again that we were told – was that the Malta-Sicily interconnector was switched off for maintenance work on at the switchgear at the Maghtab terminal station. As it was being tested, several distribution feeders tripped, which led to the tripping of machines at the Delimara power station, which at the time was feeding power to the country. It was not a question of overloading – the Delimara power station, Enemalta said, has enough capacity to feed the whole nation. Neither was it a question that the network is not strong enough.

This is the official version of what happened but, in between the “tripping” and the “restoration”, the social media was awash with comments about the power cut as people were wondering what was happening. Needless to say, some took it with a pinch of salt, coming up with their own comments, most of which were jibes at the administration. There were suggestions that the “establishment” was behind the power cut, a reference to the way Prime Minister Robert Abela blamed a hidden hand for anything that goes wrong in his government. Others wanted to be given recommendations for books to read, in clear allusion to what Inclusion Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli had said last year at the height of the power cuts the country was experiencing. At least it did not take long for the power to be restored, and football enthusiasts were able to watch the final part of the Denmark-Slovenia match.

But, rightly so, consumers are preoccupied. And by consumers we mean both families and businesses. Families want to enjoy the comforts they have become used to, especially so when they need to cool their homes when temperatures shoot up in summer (and heat up their homes when they go down in winter). For their part, businesses need to continue operating, and time lost because of power cuts means money lost too.

The government and Enemalta must give assurances that everything is in order and that, when the temperatures soar as they normally do in summer, the generation of power and its distribution do not encounter faults.

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