Network damages remind of need for system upgrade

Power outages in many parts of Greece, including hard-hit Athens, as a result of collapsing trees that damaged overhead power lines during heavy snowfall earlier this week, have triggered discussion about the need for underground distribution networks and the network’s overall reinforcement and improvement.

Also, the installation of 7.4 million smart power meters, a project budgeted at 800 million euros, is a priority, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO officials stressed in the wake of network damages inflicted by the snowstorms.

Distribution network investments have fallen behind over the past eight years, sliding from approximately 280 million euros in 2012 to 123 million euros in 2017 and 2018 before slightly rebounding to 135 million euros in 2019 and an unconfirmed 178 million euros in 2020.

This reduction in network investments by DEDDIE/HEDNO has stemmed from poor financial performances by parent company PPC, the power utility, during the aforementioned period.

“Ten years of economic crisis in Greece has led to slight infrastructure regression,” the recently appointed energy minister Kostas Skrekas noted late last night, while crews were working overtime to restore damages caused by Medea, as the extreme weather system was dubbed. “We have allotted 200 million euros of recovery fund money for underground cable investments,” the minister added.

Speaking at an energy conference yesterday, the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou said government plans for an upgrade of the country’s power distribution network would result in investments anticipated to total 3.5 billion euros over the next decade.