ECONOMY

Power officials praying for more rain before summer

Electric power sufficiency during the coming summer depends almost entirely on rainfall, according to officials from the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and DESMHE, the distribution system operator. Water reserves for use by hydroelectric power plants are running low, owing to scant rainfall. Last week, Takis Athanassopoulos, PPC president and CEO, told representatives of professional chambers: «We hope it will rain.» He added, quite frankly: «I don’t know whether we can avoid power cuts this summer; we are currently considering all the options for better management (of available resources).» Equally frank are the heads of DESMHE, since they are – more than anyone else – aware of capacity shortfalls and the operating conditions of PPC power plants. Commenting on whether power cuts might be avoided this summer, PPC Head of Distribution Dimitris Lathouris told Kathimerini that «it all depends on whether reservoirs are filled up.» The first rainy days of April have helped to raise hopes among PPC officials, but they will have to wait for May when they will be able to estimate inflows and outflows, which will help them achieve optimum management. What PPC and DESMHE officials fear most is the fact that demand last summer rose by 16 percent, compared to a projected 4.5-7.0 percent. Should a lengthy heat wave occur this summer, it is doubtful whether planned power cuts can be avoided. The PPC administration has secured funds of -400 million for projects to be implemented during 2008. In addition, for the very first time, the power company has mapped out a five-year development plan to improve its power distribution network. Lathouris said that upon completion of this project, «Greece will have the best [power distribution] network in Europe.» Works are estimated to be completed in late May and are expected to boost the system’s reliability, especially during the summer months. In addition, efforts this summer to ensure power sufficiency are expected to come also from businesses, through some specially designed «bonus malus» programs to encourage lower consumption during peak hours. PPC officials are also considering launching a power-saving campaign that will target household consumers.