PPC pledges to restore power to Santorini

As authorities struggled on Friday to restore the electricity supply to the popular tourist destination of Santorini, following a blackout prompted by a power station fire on Tuesday, the head of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) Arthouros Zervos pledged that the southern Aegean island’s electricity supply would be back to normal by early this afternoon.

Zervos made the promise following talks on the island with Mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos as well as Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis and Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, who cut short their summer breaks to travel to Santorini. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), Panos Livadas, who is to launch a campaign to promote Santorini via social media, it was reportedly decided.

The upheaval has come amid signs that Santorini, one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, is on track to break a record of 1.9 million foreign visitors attracted in 2011.

After the talks, the PPC chief said the problems on Santorini were “unprecedented,” noting that no other PPC plant on any other island had suffered such debilitating damage.

By late Friday, power had been restored to three-quarters of the island. Two mobile power generators being carried to the island aboard a passenger ferry and naval vessel were expected to arrive today and boost the power supply. A minor setback to power restoration efforts, caused by a small blast at an electricity distribution center, was quickly overcome, local reports said.

The island’s mayor, who on Thursday had threatened to sue PPC over the protracted power supply problems, appeared to have softened his stance yesterday but said he had not ruled out legal action.

Although local authorities have sought to make the best of a bad situation, sending musicians into the streets to entertain tourists and urging them to enjoy the romance of candlelit dinners, the power problem has caused a headache for businesses. Those who lack their own power generators have been particularly hard hit.

Kefaloyianni emphasized that mobile generators were only a temporary solution as the island’s water supply was also dependent on the full restoration of electricity.