Updated 7.20pm

Enemalta has postponed all non-essential scheduled power cuts until after the ongoing midsummer heatwave has passed, as demand for electricity reached a record high on Monday.

The power supply company’s website list 27 different localities where power cuts are scheduled for the next few days. Some of the cuts are due to last hours across the hottest periods of the day.

It said such works “are carried out regularly throughout the year as part of the servicing and reinforcement requirements of the national electricity grid.”

But in a subsequent statement on Tuesday evening, Enemalta said that it would be putting off all non-essential repairs to a later, cooler date.

“In order to minimize public inconvenience, it has been decided that the schedule of regular maintenance works in the coming days will be revised and only essential work will be carried out,” the company said.

Enemalta did not specify which of the scheduled power cuts were non-essential. An updated schedule would be provided in due course, it said.

But while reports of power cuts make headlines from time to time, this year's issues with electricity are particularly problematic due to higher-than-usual temperatures. 

Malta is currently going through the second heatwave of the summer. 

According to the Met Office, a maximum temperature of 39°C is forecast until Thursday, but the temperatures will feel several degrees hotter

The temperature is expected to drop slightly to 37°C on Friday and 35°C on Saturday.

The power cuts, which have been more frequent in some localities, means many are reporting sleepless nights as electric fans or airconditioning systems can not operate. 

According to the Enemalta website, none of the planned works are set to run through the night.

One way to keep cool in the heatwave. Photo: Chris Sant FournierOne way to keep cool in the heatwave. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Enemalta says demand reached record levels

Enemalta said the demand for electricity supply reached a record level of 561MW on Monday, an increase of 10% when compared to the highest-ever rate registered of 510MW in July 2019.

"The demand for electricity has been on the increase since the first heatwave that hit the Maltese islands towards the end of June, when the demand reached 536MW.

"This also exceeded the record reached in July two years ago. When compared to last year, the demand for electricity increased by 7.7% in the first seven months of the year," Enemalta said. 

In 2020, demand had fallen by 4.5 per cent, according to a statement by the company issued in March.

This increase in demand coupled with the soaring temperatures have resulted in "damages on the low-voltage network", Enemalta said. 

"The duration of the outage varies according to the type of the fault. Resultantly, electricity supply is restored in a matter of minutes in some cases, while in others, it takes longer. When possible, Enemalta deploys generators to substations to mitigate inconveniences whilst repairs are underway."

Residents complain of lengthy outages at night

Meanwhile, many have taken to social media to complain about late-evening outages,  despite Enemalta's schedule not showing any works. 

In a residents' group for Żebbuġ, for instance, Facebook users reported instances of short, persistant power cuts. Similar posts have also been shared in groups for other localities. 

When one Facebook user posted on the Expats Malta social group about power cuts in St Julian's late on Monday, many joined in to report similar situations in their locality.

"Whole street of Triq Il-Mensija, St Julians just went dark and no information on Enemalta about power cuts, anybody know what's up?" he asked, as residents from Rabat, Ħamrun, Żejtun and Swieqi chimed in. 

And according to users on a group 'Ene-bitching', which serves as a "Maltese power cut support group", Gżira residents said they had no power for over six hours on Monday, while similar issues were reported in Vittoriosa and Birkirkara at around the same time. 

In June, when Malta sizzled during the first of the year's heatwaves, a damaged underground cable resulted in outages in various localities all over the island.

In that case, Enemalta had said the cable was damaged by hot weather which caused the load to rise quickly, but it assured the public that despite a rise in demand caused by the hot weather, it had enough supply capacity.  

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