Delay in Delimara gas plant will be ‘months, not years’ - Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says financing of tariff reductions will not be shouldered by taxpayers • Muscat outlines measures to fund reduction in tariffs

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has this morning confirmed that the government will miss the March 2015 deadline for the new gas-fired power station in Delimara, claiming however, that the delay would only be for “a few months, and not years.”

Addressing the party faithful in Marsaxlokk, Muscat insisted that the government “will deliver on its promise to remove the cancer factory within the coming months.”

Echoing the comments of health minister Konrad Mizzi that the construction of the power station will be delayed, the prime minister, insisted that notwithstanding the delay, the energy tariff reductions for businesses would come into force as promised.

However, Muscat assured that the reductions would not be funded by the tax payer, but will instead be financed by a number of measures – namely the improvement of Enemalta’s operations and financial performance, the interconnector project on time, and the complete conversion of the BWSC plant to gas.

“We inherited a disastrous situation where Enemalta had racked up €700 million in debt. If the government were to ignore this situation, Enemalta, its workers, and Malta and its banks, would have been brought down.”

“As a result the government insisted on implementing a strategic solution, and a few weeks from now China Shanghai Electric’s €300 million investment will be finalised,” Muscat argued. 

The prime minister also stated that the investment will not only land Enemalta back on its feet, but in a buoyant display in front of the Labour faithful, claimed that the state utility would turn Malta into a “regional force where other countries would invest.”

Muscat also stated that the government managed to reduce Enemalta’s by €20 million in just one year.

Defending the government’s decision to give the Armier boathouses an electricity meter, the prime minister underlined that “this does not mean that their position has been regularised or that they have a permit.”

“We could not allow people to have a situation where people were consuming electricity without paying for it,” he said.

Dubbing the power station as a ‘health plague,’ the prime minister also stated that the Marsa Power Station – which has been earmarked for closure since 1987 – would be closed in the coming months.

Outlining the government’s measures to reduce electricity tariffs, Muscat also explained that the government is also working the interconnector project on time.

“The previous government had allowed the project to fall behind, and when the new government took over, it transpired that there were no permits for the project, but now all of these have been obtained,” Muscat said.

But despite the interconnector project, Muscat argued that while the produced electricity rates would be cheaper than that produced by HFO, they would be more expensive than those produced by gas.

He also stated that Malta would have “two gas-powered power stations,” as the BWSC plant in Delimara would, as promised in the run-up to the general election, be converted to gas from heavy fuel oil.