Government to speed up investment in power distribution, PM says

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Last Updated on Saturday, 29 July, 2023 at 9:22 am by Andre Camilleri

The government will be speeding up its investment in the distribution of power as from 2024, Prime Minister Robert Abela said in a meeting with the social partners.

Malta is already implementing a project that sees €15 million yearly investment to strengthen the distribution network. Given what has happened in the past weeks and the effects of climate change, the government will now be investing €30 million in this as from next year.

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

Abela was meeting the Malta Council for Economic Development at a specially convened meeting to discuss the power outages of the past 10 days. Many localities in Malta and Gozo were hit by repeated power cuts which lasted many hours, sometimes more than a day. Enemalta has blamed the rising temperatures which caused faults in the cable network.

Prime Minister Abela noted that the effects of climate change as being experienced as was evident through the long heatwave the Maltese islands and the rest of the Mediterranean endured for over a week at unprecedented temperatures.

Processes to construct new electricity distribution systems must be accelerated while existing ones should be expanded for the addition of further substations. An importance will also be given to increasing the total number of cables to make the present system more robust in preparation for similar future instances.

The Prime Minister explained how €40 million worth of European funds from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve were directed towards the goals enshrined through the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan. This puts further emphasis towards sustainable development; the Maltese Government’s fund towards energy reform has increased by €70 million – increasing to a total budget of €330 million.

Abela said that the economic transition that the government is pushing should contribute to address the challenges of climate change. The transition should be one based on quality, respect towards each other and more discipline. He mentioned reforms such as the licensing of contractors, which has already been implemented, and the one regarding stone masons, which has been launched, as examples on the way forward.

He said that the government remains sensitive to the needs of the people and business. A study is being carried out to establish a compensation system to those who are hit by power cuts in exceptional circumstances related to climate change.

Abela said that he had instructed the permanent secretary Tony Sultana to establish a protocol to determine what shiuld be done when the country is facing pressure derived from climate change. This protocol will lay down the mechanisms that the country will follow to be more effective in its reaction to such happenings. An authority will also be established to see what more Malta can do to face the challenges of climate change, Abela said.

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said that in the coming months a draft law related to the setting up of the authority will be presented in Parliament.

Also present in this meeting were Minister Clyde Caruana for Finance and Employment, the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue, Andy Ellul, Principal Permanent Secretary Tony Sultana, Cabinet Secretary Ryan Spagnol, and the Head of Secretariat within the Office of the Prime Minister, Glenn Micallef.

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