PM: Gov’t to underground some power lines; clarify overlapping responsibilities

PM: Gov’t to underground some power lines; clarify overlapping responsibilities

The Greek government will prioritize the replacement of overhead cables providing electrical power with underground cables in critical areas and will soon table a bill seeking to clarify the overlapping responsibilities of state and municipal authorities on maintenance issues, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday, as authorities struggled to restore power in thousands of households hit by a snowstorm early the week.

“Before the bad weather hit, we had already planned to propose including a series of infrastructure projects related to climate change in the National Recovery Plan, amounting to almost 1 billion euros, some of which have to do with undergrounding cables in critical areas where cables need to be underground for security reasons,” he told New Democracy’s central committee during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

The ferocious snowstorm toppled hundreds of utility poles – some of which are wooden – around Attica, dragging nearby power lines with them and cutting power to tens of thousands of households. 

A total of 70,000 households in Attica and 15,000 in Evia were left without power and some without water for almost three days.

The problems also initiated a blame game between regional authorities and the power distribution agency DEDDIE on who was ultimately responsible for the disruptions caused by the Medea weather system.

Given that most of the problems to the power grid (90%) were caused by falling trees, a public debate raged on as to who was ultimately responsible. Several mayors blame power distribution operator DEDDIE, saying that there was never a request for pruning trees located near power lines.

On the other hand, another camp said that vegetation management  is the exclusive responsibility of the local authorities and that they should have taken the appropriate actions before the bad weather arrived.

Mitsotakis said he was displeased with the “ping pong” of accusations and counter-accusations and announced that a new legislation prepared by the Ministry of Interior will resolve the problems of overlapping responsibilities.

“It is our decision to proceed with even greater speed to one of our central campaign commitments, which is none other than the clarification of responsibilities at all levels of government, starting with the central state,” he said.

He also said he asked the CEO of the country’s power utility (PPC), Georgios Stassis, to consider a reduction in February’s electricity bills for households that were left without power for three days during the snowstorm as “a gesture of goodwill.”

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