Enemalta’s CEO has apologised for power cuts that have left swathes of households without electricity for hours on end.
Addressing a press conference, CEO Jason Vella attributed the outages to weaknesses in Enemalta’s distribution network that had been exposed and exacerbated by the heat and the ensuing rise in demand.
Vella said it is normal to have network issues during high temperatures, with the “weak” areas in the network being the ones that suffer.
He said Enemalta’s plan to upgrade its network through further investment would be accelerated.
Plunge in capital expenditure
Enemalta’s capital expenditure, which averaged €30 million yearly between 2015 and 2019, was slashed to around €12 million last year.
The state-owned electicity provider is expected to declare a loss in the region of €30 million from its operations in 2020.
According to forecasts by S&P, Enemalta’s capital investment is set to remain around the €12 million mark this year and next.
Vella would not be drawn into whether this recent drop in capital investment in the distribution network had contributed to the outages.
He said €130 million had been invested over seven years, with Enemalta building an average of 40 new substations a year.
Enemalta now has 380 automated substations and had carried out 5,000km worth of network expansion every year.
Problems difficult to predict
Questioned further about whether the outages were preventable, Vella said the problems leading to the power cuts were difficult to predict.
“Much of the network is buried underground. Where we know there is a problem, we address it with a plan.”
On whether consumers would be offered compensation, Vella said there is already a mechanism in place allowing those impacted by the outages to file a claim.
Vella said that in 71% of the cases, the service was restored within an hour.
He said Enemalta’s processes work well when there is a single fault, but this time faults developed on multiple parts of the network.
Where possible, generators are put in place to mitigate waiting times, Vella continued.
For the second time in a week, demand for electricity reached a record peak of 565MW, Vella said.
He assured that Enemalta’s energy mix exceeds demand, ensuring security of supply.
The government recently unveiled plans for a second interconnector to further boost supply.
The press conference came a day after Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said that the current situation of frequent power cuts is “unacceptable” and that she had ordered Enemalta to devise a plan to address the issue immediately.