Crete interconnection local resistance persisting

An electricity interconnection project planned to link Crete with the Peloponnese via a submarine and overland cable crossing – whose development would greatly reduce the need for local power generation on the island, Greece’s largest, and cut Public Service Compensation (YKO) costs paid by all consumers to support electricity production on the non-interconnected islands – is at a crucial stage and is threatened by delays as a result of persistent residential resistance at the Peloponnese end.

Locals of the Lakonia region’s Malea peninsula, where the submarine cable running from Crete is planned to land, have reacted and are demanding an alternate location.

IPTO, the power grid operator, contends that any change of plan would lead to a two-year project delay. In an effort to appease the ongoing concerns of the Malea area’s residents, the operator intends to develop a longer subterranean section of the cable’s overland stretch on the Peloponnese as well as additional projects. These include finding optimal positions for electricity pylons, as far away as possible from small mountain villages in the wider area. The replacement of large pylons with smaller ones, wherever technically possible, is also being looked at. It remains to be seen whether local communities and authorities will be satisfied by these moves.

An EU decision, already taken, will, as of 2020, lead to stricter emission limits for conventional power stations, meaning that high-cost fuel and mazut-fired local stations on Crete will need to cease operating.

Taking this into account, IPTO plans to have its Cretan link, the first stage of a bigger interconnection, operational by 2020 to prevent electricity supply problems on the island. The interconnection will facilitate electricty supply to Crete from the mainland.

Given the circumstances, the Cretan interconnection faces greater time pressure than equivalent projects in other parts of Greece.

IPTO chief executive Manos Manousakis noted that, despite the project’s urgency, the operator has agreed to enter a new round of consultation with locals in search of alternatives minimizing the project’s length of overland cable crossings.

Manousakis noted that the project plan has already been revised once before to satisfy local concerns. Those changes, he pointed out, led to a decision to install subterranean cable crossings covering 30 percent of the project’s land segment on the Peloponnese side, a change that significantly increased the interconnection’s cost.

Malea area authorities have pointed out that the project’s cable work at the Cretan end is entirely subterannean.

Malea area authorities and residents have already filed a case at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court. It is feared the legal proceedings could delay the project.