EAC strike could cause blackouts

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The power supply could be endangered by electricity authority staff deciding to pull the plug on six out-of-date steam turbines at the Dhekelia power station that pollutes the environment.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the spokesperson for the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, Christina Papadopoulou, said that although the EAC is on the same page with unions, they feel industrial action will do more harm than good.

Trade unions announced industrial action that will impact consumers, including possible power cuts because of the six turbines going offline from 14 December.

“Although of small capacity (60 MW each), the turbines offer system security, stability and flexibility,” said Papadopoulou.

As she explained, the six turbines, albeit outdated and energy-intensive, allow for better management of the participation of RES in the electricity supply.

She confirmed that this would not only cause a production deficit but make it difficult for the entire grid, hindering the smooth use of energy from photovoltaic or wind farms.

Currently, only four of the six steam turbines are in use, with a capacity of around 200 MW.

The unions argue that the EAC cannot cope with the increase in penalties imposed by the EU for the use of the Dhekelia turbines, which in turn, is inflating consumer electricity bills.

Papadopoulou could not confirm whether power cuts would be necessary if the turbines go offline.

“As you know, the six steam units of the Dhekelia Power Plant operate illegally and contribute to increasing costs and creating the effects of profiteering; therefore, the staff will not participate in any such activity,” said a union letter to Energy Minister Natasa Pilides.

Measures also include a work-to-rule and overtime ban.

“It means some tasks and services, such as connecting new customers to the grid, responding to damage reports and maintenance, will be delayed,” said Papadopoulou.

Staff are also protesting at understaffing, claiming that workers are called upon to carry out tasks that require technical knowledge due to a lack of skilled engineers.

The EAC also wants the government approves 375 new positions at the authority.

The Finance Ministry has recently greenlighted 146 of the positions requested.

“The creation of 375 new positions would inevitably lead to an increase in the operating costs of the EAC and the price for electricity consumption in a difficult period for the Cypriot consumer”, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides argued last week.

EAC unions are also protesting “policies and practices of the government which block the authority’s plans to develop RES projects in favour of the private sector”.

They claim the government requested a comprehensive plan from the EAC to implement RES projects, but it required withdrawing conventional production units.

Unions argue that conventional power plants cannot be pulled from the grid as it compromises energy security.