Islanders see light after 5 day blackout

Electricity was restored to most of the Ionian islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca yesterday, according to Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who also admitted that some power problems in the region are ongoing after a five-day blackout. The two islands suffered a general blackout on Tuesday at 1.45 a.m. due to gale-force winds and snowstorms that brought down about 80 electricity poles in Cephalonia. Sioufas yesterday described the remaining problems as minor and said they will be overcome soon. The news will come as cold comfort to Cephalonia’s 40,000 residents, most of whom saw out the latest cold snap without electricity. Only about 40 percent of the island has been lit up in the last few days. About 180 power technicians have been working around the clock on the island but seem unable to completely fix the situation. On Friday, the government called in the army to help with the crisis but stopped short of declaring a state of emergency on the island. The navy and the air force delivered 26 electricity generators and another 104 are on the way. Other areas of Greece, particularly islands, were left in the dark by last week’s storms, but power supplies were quickly restored. A Public Power Corporation (PPC) official told Kathimerini that the company’s network maintenance program has been changed as a cost-cutting measure. The general secretary of the PPC Technicians’ Union, Pavlos Varlamos, said that Greece’s power monopoly has stopped its scheduled maintenance program in the last 10-15 years. «Instead of this (scheduled maintenance) we are called on to fix faults that are detected and this is called maintenance,» he said. Industry sources estimate that 3,000 more technical staff would be required if PPC was to properly implement a maintenance program which involves preventive measures. PPC is listed on the Athens bourse and employed more than 28,000 people at the end of 2004.

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