ECONOMY

Power status remains precarious

The Public Power Corporation (PPC) yesterday continued its controlled cuts in its power supply throughout the country in order to avert a general blackout due to striking workers. Nevertheless, the situation remained touch-and-go, as participation in the strike was virtually across the board. About 5,000 megawatts in production capacity was estimated to be inoperative – and any mechanical fault that might occur in the grid will not be immediately repairable. The cuts, to save about 800 MW over staggered two-hour periods, are projected to be raised to 1,000-1,200 MW today. About 1,000 MW was met by hydroelectric production, but this is causing the angry reaction of farmers, who see it as resulting in water shortages in the coming summer. A further 1,000 MW has been imported from Italy. In an effort to notify consumers of the power cuts in advance, PPC has been issuing tables to the media with the planned cuts, clarifying that the areas affected and the duration of the cuts listed are only indicative, as the situation regarding both supply and demand is fluid, making accurate planning impossible. Officials from PPC and the grid operator DESMHE fear that the situation could become serious, as PPC workers intend to begin a new strike today, which is planned to last until Wednesday. Yesterday, an Athens court session was invaded by workers who prevented it from hearing a PPC suit asking for the strike to be declared as illegal and abusive. It is due to hear the case at 11 a.m. today. Officials say the biggest danger is for the power stations to run out of lignite, stockpiles of which are running low. PPC mines its own lignite and the miners are participating in the strike. They argue further that a blackout was largely avoided due to the fact that no serious mechanical fault took place and imports were helped by low consumption in neighboring countries.