29 July, 2004
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of power supply problems during the Olympic Games in Athens next month, following the release of a report on a general blackout that left large parts of the country without electricity on July 12.
According to Sioufas, recent investments to enhance the power supply network and infrastructure that will be delivered over the coming days will guarantee a safe and adequate power supply during the Games, as well as the rest of 2004. Development ministry officials said previously planned work on the network carried out since July 12, as well as work due to be completed over the next few days, would increase its capacity for the production, transport and distribution of power.
Sioufas said the report did not reveal any acts of sabotage or any intentional actions or omissions, blaming the blackout on a combination of factors and coincidences, including human error, which led to the general collapse of the network.
Among factors cited in the report were an imbalance in production and consumption between the northern and southern parts of the country, with most electricity production in the north and the greatest consumption in the south. This was exacerbated further by the high temperatures on that day and the fact that the heat wave struck early in the summer, before most Athenians had left on holiday.
The problem was compounded by delays in works to enhance the network's capacity to transport power to central Greece and Attica, which had not kept track with the rate at which overall power loads had increased. Ministry officials said recent additions to the system after July 12 will have eliminated this problem.
Additional factors that led to the general power failure were malfunctions in a number of local networks that were not fixed on time because technicians were occupied with Olympic preparations, human error which resulted in delays in reducing the power load and the fact that two power plants, at Megalopoli and Lavrion, were offline on that day due to technical problems, as well as the way that Public Power Corporation power units operated, which tended to accelerate the collapse.
According to the committee that drafted the report, adequate power supply was not directly linked with the power failure of July 12 since domestic production was also supported by imports. It stressed a recent agreement for the purchase of electricity from Italy, with priority import rights during the Olympic Games, in particular.
Finally, the committee made a number of suggestions for preventing similar problems in the future, such as giving incentives to reduce consumption at peak times through pricing policy and building additional power stations in the south.
Source: Athens News Agency