Enemalta intends launching an internal energy conservation policy hoping to set an example of how the Maltese could save energy in their own homes.

"We need to set an example, but to do that, we need to get our house in order first," Enemalta chairman, Alex Tranter, told The Times during an open day at the Delimara power station yesterday.

While touring the power plant with his family, Mr Tranter said that by the end of the year, Enemalta would have installed photo-voltaic panels - which turn sunlight into electricity - to run one of its distribution centres entirely on alternative energy.

"The idea is to test the feasibility of alternative energy sources and expand its use over the years. Yet, such use will always represent a small portion of all electricity consumption," Mr Tranter said.

The open day at the power station - for which scores of people turned up - was an occasion to show the public a facet of Enemalta which is hardly ever seen, and was part of "a new way of doing things".

"Please tell your readers they can register to our website so that they may be notified of a planned power cut via an SMS," Mr Tranter said.

Before taking a guided tour around noisy boilers and turbines inside the power plant itself, visitors were shown an interactive exhibition on how electric lighting was introduced to Malta during an opera at the Royal Opera House, in Valletta, in 1882 and the installation of the first public electricity service more than 10 years later.

On display beneath a scorching sun was a de-commissioned Ex-Littele Barford steam turbine which had been in use at the Marsa power station, and was replaced in 1996.

Answering questions by inquisitive children, including some who wanted to know what goes wrong when a power cut happens, an Enemalta officer who led the tour explained the functions of the staff in the control rooms of the station and how power output is stepped up from 10,800 volts when it is produced to 132,000 volts in order to be carried across the country.

"You can see that safety is a priority here. It was not always like this. When I was employed at the Marsa power station 25 years ago, we used to work bare-chested," he said.

The most striking feature was the 150-metre tall chimney - the tallest freestanding structure on the islands. Access to the top is through an internal ladder which takes about 45 minutes to climb, he said.

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