As temperatures rise, there is little doubt that this summer will not be cooler than the last few years. Last Sunday, the country experienced the first major power cut – and it’s not even officially summer yet. Social media platforms were packed with comments and snide remarks about the sad state of affairs, though power cuts are not uncommon overseas either. 

But people are understandably worried about a return of the power supply interruption that disrupted the lives of many last summer.

Last year, practically everyone had to put up with long and persistent power cuts that disrupted their lives and cost businesses and households dearly. 

The high temperatures could often not be mitigated by air conditioning or electric ventilation because the frequent power cuts exposed vulnerable persons, like young children and older adults, to avoidable risks. A number of vulnerable people, in fact, are known to have died because of the heat. Appliances were  damaged and food was spoiled and thousands of businesses lost money. 

Enemalta and the minister responsible for energy services must update the public on the progress in the electricity infrastructure upgrades promised last year to avoid a recurrence. 

Enemalta said a new transformer is being installed at the Buġibba Distribution Centre to strengthen the provision of electricity to this busy residential and tourism hub. New distribution centres are also being developed in Naxxar and Siġġiewi – two towns most affected by power cuts last summer. 

Enemalta had announced plans for a temporary emergency power plant to meet increasing electricity demand and prevent a repeat. However, this facility has yet to be inaugurated and details are sparse. This is a temporary measure before a second interconnector to Sicily is completed.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that lengthy roadworks to install new electricity cables have been extensive in many parts of the island. 

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli and Enemalta must do more to keep the public informed about what to expect if, as is likely, we experience other heatwaves in the coming weeks. 

A reliable energy supply is the right of every citizen, and the government is ultimately responsible to ensure power cuts are an exception rather than the norm.

Operators in a tourism industry based on attracting mass visitors that stretch the physical infrastructure to breaking point have a right to more detailed information on what to expect this summer. 

Enemalta and ministry officials were accused of misleading information and half-truths to try to shift the blame. This strategy is not acceptable

They need to hear independent experts’ assessment on whether the work on the electricity distribution infrastructure in the last several months is enough to deal with the demand. 

Businesses that depend on a reliable and consistent power supply to provide the services they sell to the public also need reassurance to help them manage their operations.

Households, especially those with vulnerable members, must be told what to expect if temperatures rise and air conditioning and electric ventilation become indispensable to avoid health risks. 

Last year’s electricity supply crisis exposed the consequences of a lack of maintenance and investment in the distribution system. This crisis was made even worse by the lack of transparency in the government’s communication strategy. 

Enemalta and ministry officials were accused of misleading information and half-truths to try to shift the blame. This strategy is not acceptable.

As the peak of summer is approaching fast, the energy minister should update the public on what we can expect if electricity demand surges. The public wants reassurance that enough has been done in the last year to guarantee sufficient energy supply and better distribution to meet the expected rise in demand. 

No one wants to experience another midsummer nightmare.   

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