With consecutive days of unplanned power cuts affecting countless households and businesses across Malta in the midst of a heatwave, a growing number of voices have called for a form of compensation for those affected. Since Enemalta is the only energy provider in the country, Abigail Agius Mamo, the CEO of the Chamber of SMEs, highlighted the provider’s responsibility given its monopoly over the market.
“We need a guaranteed service, it is not acceptable,” Ms Agius Mamo told this newsroom.
“I’ve seen a lot of distress from both businesses and consumers. Everyone wants to be able to carry on with their business.”
As heatwave Charon sweeps across Europe, the Met Office has issued an orange warning, due to temperatures forecasted to surpass 39°C for at least the next seven days.
Higher temperatures lead to growing energy demands from households and also businesses having to crank up their cooling system in order to carry on with their day. This elevated level of demand increases the risk of power cuts, which have occurred across several localities since Monday (17th July) evening.
In certain areas, such as parts of Fgura, many households were left without energy for over 12 hours.
In a statement on Wednesday (today), the energy provider informed that there were a number of high voltage network faults.
“For businesses, it’s not just an inconvenience. I recently heard someone say, ‘another day wasted, everyone home’. Workers will still need to be paid, and targets still need to be reached,” commented Ms Agius Mamo.
When asked which sectors of the economy were affected most, she said all of them have been impacted in some manner, since they all depend on electricity in one way or another.
However, she added that sectors such as manufacturing and catering were particularly impacted.
In light of the recent recurring power cuts, a growing number of voices have been calling for some form of compensation. Jason Micallef, chairperson of the Valletta Cultural Agency, said on Facebook, “in circumstances such as these, where there were thousands who had their electricity supply cut off for long hours both during the night and day over a period of two days, Enemalta has to start compensating its clients with a discount in the next electricity bill that it sends to the affected clients.”
While Ms Agius Mamo understood the calls for compensation, she emphasised the need for the sole energy provider, Enemalta, to fulfil its responsibility, fill the energy demand gap and provide a guaranteed service.
Unlike in other EU countries where member states opened their energy markets to competition, Malta had obtained a derogation which allowed Enemalta to continue being the sole energy provider. This is largely due to Malta’s small market size.
“For when the service fails, the provider needs to look into alternative solutions, such as investing in batteries, improving the infrastructure and addressing the gaps,” added Ms Agius Mamo.
“Malta is well-known as a hot country, heatwaves happen every year, and we do not yet have a solution.”
The Nationalist Party has also proposed the introduction of compensation for those who for several hours suffered from either an unstable voltage or a power cut.
The party’s energy spokesperson, Mark Anthony Sammut said, “this has to be an automatic process. It’s a process that exists in many other developed countries, where the consumer is compensated because they are paying for a stable service.”
Featured Image: Enemalta via Facebook
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