Commercial interest suspicions raised over Italy power link problem

Frequent problems disenabling the Greek-Italian grid interconnection to function for extended periods have raised suspicions that commercial interests, besides technical issues, may also be at play.

The interconnection’s latest breakdown, occurring at a time when crossboundary electricity trade is set to rise, has once again brought the issue to the fore. In response, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, and its Italian counterpart, have begun investigating the matter in an attempt to identify the causes behind the regular breakdowns.

The interconnection stopped operating in early October and is not expected to become available again until at least the end of the year.

RAE and Italy’s Terna informed of a technical issue at the Greek-Italian grid interconnection on October 9.

Inspections of the interconnection’s overhead segment in Greece did not reveal any issues, prompting Terna to focus its check on the submarine section, where a technical problem was reportedly identified. A specialized vessel was then recruited for the repair effort. According to initial estimates, work is expected to be completed by mid-December while the interconnection is seen working again within the last yen days of the year.

As a result of the disruption, a mechanism was activated on November 25 requiring RAE and Terna to cover Physical Transmission Rights (PTRs) until the damage is repaired.

Italy’s interconnections with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia also encountered operational problems in October and November.

Grid capacities in the wider region are expected to be tested by extreme weather conditions this coming winter. All these factors combined could prompt a domino effect that may lead to electricity capacity issues in various parts of Europe and increase prices. If so, the adequacy of precautionary measures taken by RAE will be put to the test.