Authorities taking part in a national energy control center emergency meeting yesterday placed the Cyclades islands on red alert as electricity supply to the region was threatened by an extensive fire that broke out in Varybobi, north of Athens.
Power supply to Syros, Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Tinos and Andros was pressured by the Varybobi fire as these islands are linked to the mainland grid via a subsea cable beginning from coastal Lavrio, southeast of Athens.
The Varybobi fire burnt late into the night but is now reported to have been brought under control by firefighters as four of five fronts have been extinguished. At least 80 houses are reported to have been burnt in the fire. No human casualties have been reported.
The fire-related collapse of two of three key power lines brought the Cyclades, as well as Athens, to the brink of an extensive power outage. Tourism activity is currently high in the Cyclades.
Officials at yesterday’s national energy control center emergency meeting decided to send distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO technicians out to Syros, Paros, Mykonos and Andros, ordering them to restart local diesel-fired power units if supply from Athens is cut.
These units have been sidelined as a result of the subsea cable connections developed to link the islands with the mainland grid.
Late in June, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, taking into account the extreme weather conditions, grid pressure, as well as the large number of tourists on the islands, had approved a DEDDIE/HEDNO application for the installation of a generator on Santorini for additional generation in case the existing facility on the island falls short of electricity demand. DEDDIE/HEDNO had estimated a possible 8-MW deficit.
The wider Athens area’s grid remains on red alert today after the capital narrowly escaped a widespread power outage yesterday following a return to service, a little after midnight, of power grid operator lines, while, in another encouraging development, winds are gaining momentum, boosting wind energy output.
The worst fears may be over but, even so, there is no capacity for complacency for as long as the extensive fires north of Athens, in the Varybobi area, keep burning.
For hours last night, Athens was on the brink of a general blackout as this fire disconnected two of three lines linking the city’s east and west. An extensive power outage, all over the city, would have been inevitable had the third line been damaged.
At 9pm last night, power supply for a big section of the city was provided through the one unaffected line. A change of wind direction helped keep the fire at a distance from this line, whose disruption would have cut power supply for millions.
Any remaining threat of an extensive power outage in Athens will be quelled once the Varybobi fire is brought under full control.
Power supply to Athens and Peloponnese areas affected late last night by a fire that broke out at a key grid facility west of Athens, in the Aspropyrgos area, was swiftly reinstated after power grid operator IPTO technicians along with distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews took action to repair damages at the grid facility.
Earlier today, the ministry assured that the environment had not been impacted after a team of environmental authorities visited the fire-damaged facility in Aspropyrgos to measure the amount of pollution in the air.
Electricity supply to Athens areas was mostly reinstated within 40 minutes while power transmission to the Peloponnese was back within 55 minutes.
The cause of the fire at the Aspropyrgos power facility is still being investigated.
Central Athens, suburbs in the west and south, as well as areas on the capital’s western outskirts, all experienced blackouts late Sunday night. In the Peloponnese, Corinth, Nafplio, Tripoli, Sparta and Kalamata were all affected. Three islands close to Athens, Aegina, Poros and Agistri, also had their electricity supply cut.
DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are still working intensively to reinstate medium-voltage supply at isolated locations in the areas that were affected.