Plan to meet summer energy demands

A range of measures to prevent power cuts this summer were unveiled by the government yesterday, including offering businesses incentives to conserve energy and renting wind turbines to help meet demand for electricity. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas presented the proposals after a committee headed by his deputy, Giorgos Salagoudis, and made up of energy experts issued its report, following four months of research, on how to bolster the country’s power grid. Key among the measures heralded by Sioufas was a plan to reduce the electricity bills of companies who use less energy during peak hours this summer, when air-conditioning systems in Greek homes and businesses are expected to be at their busiest. Details of the initiative will be issued via the Public Power Corporation (PPC) by April, although it is thought that a measure penalizing firms if they waste energy during the summer could also be tagged on. The process will not be applicable to households, as it would require a change of electricity meters. There will, however, be a publicity campaign to inform consumers about how they can conserve energy. PPC also plans to rent two 120-megawatt wind turbines and place them in Lavrion, west of Athens, from June until September to provide extra electricity, said Sioufas, who has previously labeled 2005 and 2006 as «difficult years» for energy sufficiency. The possibility of power outages without warning during this summer was not ruled out by the minister, although he said that unannounced blackouts would only occur in extreme circumstances. The committee proposed several other energy-boosting measures, including the transferring of certain electricity-sapping activities, such as the watering of crops, to off-peak hours and the construction of more substations to help the distribution of power.