Officials: Games will have power

A commission of inquiry into the blackout that hit Athens and most of southern Greece on July 12 cast blame on both the state-run Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the state body which is responsible for the distribution of power (DESMIE). The commission, headed by the Development Ministry’s general secretary for power, N. Stefanou, appeared to be aimed at sharing the blame equally rather than holding anyone responsible for the blackout which embarrassed Greece internationally in the runup to the Olympics. Among its findings, the commission reported that reserves of power were below the minimum 15 percent set by the EU. It praised a recent agreement to import power from Italy when necessary. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who presented the report to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Parliament, stressed that Greece will have a sufficient power supply during the Games and beyond. «The projects that were programmed before and after March 2004 and were implemented after June, as well as the projects that are to be completed by early August, guarantee the smooth supply of electricity to the whole country during the Olympic Games and the whole of 2004,» Sioufas said. The commission’s report included proposals for new power plants in southern Greece, turning the Argyroupolis substation into a high-voltage station, upgrading the power transfer system and the faster completion of new power plants in Thessaloniki and Lavrion. The report found that the blackout could have been avoided had the PPC upgraded its supply system earlier and if DESMIE had worked more quickly to cut off supplies to certain areas and so prevent the collapse of the country’s southern system.