Cyprus electricity company EAC

Cyprus electricity company EAC

EAC power cables

AS of 19th July 2011  authorities announced that power cuts would be limited to one per day without night or weekend blackouts, Trade and Industry Minister Antonis Paschalides said.

Since the Mari naval base blast took out the island’s main power station ten days ago, some areas islandwide have been subjected to two and three power cuts each day, some lasting more than the initially-stated two and a half hours. Other areas have had fewer, or no cuts at all.

Paschalides said the one-a-day cuts, which was due to be implemented as of yesterday, should not last more than two hours and 15 minutes.

Despite the good news about no more weekend or nightly blackouts, Paschalides said the energy crisis was far from over.

“The problem with the energy crisis has not been solved. It is very serious,” Paschalides told the House Commerce Committee. In an over two-hour meeting conducted in the dark most for the time – to save energy — the minister praised all involved for their “superhuman efforts” and round-the-clock work to manage the situation after Cyprus suddenly lost around 60 per cent of its electricity production capability – or 780MW.

Paschalides said after the initial shock on July 11, power was secured for vital services and uninterrupted electricity supply was made available to tourist areas a day later.

The power station at Vassilikos was destroyed and 13 people were killed after confiscated Iranian munitions destined for Syria – haphazardly stored at the Evangelos Florakis naval base next door – exploded in the early hours.

The state urgently sought help from various EU and other countries, immediately securing generators from Israel and Greece.

It has also procured power from Turkish Cypriots, a move criticised in some circles.

“It is easy to say do not do A or B,” Paschalides said. “But no one told us where to get power from. We have lost 60 per cent of production but we have managed to maintain the system. There could have been a blackout.”

The minister said things looked better now but warned against complacency.

He said the first hours of the emergency saw a substantial drop in demand as the public heeded calls to save energy.

But in the past two-three days there has been a huge increase, a result of “some switching on their air-conditioning.”

“The appeal to everyone is not to use the air-conditioning and electrical appliances unless absolutely necessary,” Paschalides added.

Christos Christodoulides, director of the Transmission System Operator (TSO) highlighted the importance of securing power from Turkish Cypriots.

“Things would be much more difficult and cuts more extensive,” Christodoulides said. “But it does not mean there is no need to save.”

Electricity Authority (EAC) chairman Harris Thrassou voiced optimism that the “battle will be won” in the end.

But he warned that the EAC could not foot the cost of the catastrophe by itself.

“The cost is great. There should be no illusion that the EAC can absorb it all,” Thrassou told lawmakers.

The committee heard that the EAC was now looking at an €8.0 million per month drop in revenues and increased fuel cost — €10 million — from running the two older and less efficient stations at Moni and Dhekelia.

The relatively calm meeting turned ugly for a few minutes after Thrassou was asked if he knew of the explosives being stored so close to the power station.

The EAC boss said they were not aware of the danger, a position rejected by DISY MP Ionas Nicolaou.

It was followed by loud, angry exchanges between Nicolaou, AKEL MP Yiannos Lamaris and EDEK MP Giorgos Varnava.

Lamaris said this was not the topic on the agenda and addressing his opposition colleagues said “your problem is that you don’t want the damage to be restored.”

Varnava, who also opposes the move to get power from the north, retorted that at this point Lamaris should be keeping his mouth shut.

The meeting continued calmly, with MPs suggesting that the government should rethink its energy policy, in light of the destruction, and possibly turn to renewable energy sources.

Paschalides said the government is looking to fast track and simplify procedures to promote renewable energy sources.

The minister also said that the cabinet is poised to give the green light for renewable energy applications totaling 18MW that were approved but implementation was delayed.