The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Updated: Power restored after nation goes dark as Enemalta says power station 'tripped'

Sunday, 16 June 2024, 18:27 Last update: about 30 days ago

Much of Malta and Gozo was hit by a power cut on Sunday evening, in what is the first such power outage since last summer – when the country battled through a spate of electricity cuts during several heatwaves.

Power went out at around 6:10pm on Sunday, with residents in many localities across the country reporting that they had no power. The cut lasted more than an hour.

Cuts were reported in localities such as Mellieha, St Paul’s Bay, Mosta, Senglea, Fgura, Santa Venera Qormi, Cospicua, Gzira, Msida, Zebbug, Marsaxlokk, Zurrieq, Paola, Marsa, Hamrun, Mosta, Siggiewi, San Gwann, Zejtun, Naxxar, Qrendi, Iklin and a host of other localities.

Power returned 15 minutes later for all of sixty seconds in Fgura before cutting out again.  The same happened in Zebbug and Sliema, but the power last around three minutes before cutting out again.  Social media users reported much the same phenomenon in their households across the country.

Enemalta said on its Facebook page that while maintenance work was taking place on the interconnector - on Sunday evening - it experienced a "trip" at the Delimara power station that led to the interruption of power to various localities (read: most of Malta and Gozo). The company said its technicians are working to restore electricity. Some localities have already got their power back, Enemalta said.

Later, the company said that power had been restored power to all the country.

The trip was registered at the Delimara power station whilst maintenance works were underway on the interconnector. "The trip caused a supply disruption from one of the generating units," Enemalta said.

Enemalta’s engineers and technicians immediately took all necessary measures to gradually restore supply to those areas affected. This was done without putting at risk the national electricity infrastructure. Within an hour, supply was gradually restored to all affected customers, Enemalta said.

In a further explanation sent to the media, Enemalta said that the Malta-Sicily Interconnector was switched off Sunday morning for maintenance works on the switchgear at the Magħtab terminal station.

The switchgear works are essential to mitigate a fault that had developed during the past days, the company said. During testing of the switchgear at Magħtab several distribution feeders tripped at 6.08pm. Subsequently, a number of machines at Delimara tripped.

After the situation was stabilized, the tripped distribution feeders were switched back on, and full supply was restored by 7.26pm. Interconnector works shall continue and will be completed Monday. During this period, supply shall be sourced from Delimara Power Station, which has sufficient generating capacity to meet demand, Enemalta said.

The power cuts were met with wild reactions in Facebook forums, as many reported losing power in their respective households.

Some recalled with fear last summer when Malta was hit by a spate of power cuts during two weeks of summer heatwaves.  The government had first blamed the hot tarmac for overheating the cables, before then admitting that works were needed to strengthen the country’s electric distribution system.

55 million – half of which was from EU funds – was set aside for this reinforcement throughout 2024, and just this month Enemalta told social partners that it was laid over 70km of new cables for an accelerated distribution network reinforcement plan.

Others took a more light-hearted approach to the matter.  One commenter noted that the timing was suspiciously close to tonight’s Euro 2024 football match, which will see England in action for the first time.

Another announced that he had luckily just finished re-organising his bookshelf, while a third said that he was opening his own candle-lit book corner to cope.  These are references to government minister Julia Farrugia Portelli last summer advising people to read a book during the sometimes day-long power cuts that hit Malta during the heatwaves.

 

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