Delimara power-station is the solution not the problem, Muscat insists

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says that if it weren't for the Delimara power-station, Malta would have to experience a three-week blackout or a return to the old Marsa power-station on full blast

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the Delimara LNG power-station was the solution to the damaged interconnector between Malta and Sicily and not the problem behind the recent power-cuts all over Malta.

On Monday, the electricity was out in several localities across Malta, the second power-cut in 24 hours and the third since last Friday.

"The recent situation shows how diligent the Labour government was in investing in the power-station at Delimara. Had we relied solely on the interconnector, we would have faced three weeks without electricity or we would have once again resorted to the old Marsa power-station on full blast. Either option isn't recommended," Muscat said.

Speaking on ONE Radio on Tuesday, Muscat added that the interconnector was severely damaged and that a survey and a report would be published on 8 January, defining whether the underwater cable was indeed damaged by illegal anchorage or a natural phenomenon.

Enemalta said on Monday that Malta's electricity was currently dependent on two aged gasoil plants at Delimara, parts of which are over 25 years old.

READ ALSO: Expect power outages to continue as old diesel plants at Delimara are overworked

"When the first power-cut took place this month, the entire system was dependent on the Delimara power-station. The issue is that there was a problem there as well. This is why Malta felt the repercussions of a damaged interconnector, because there were problems in both sources.

"The Nationalist Party used to tell us that we didn't need this power-station. We still need it and we still need the interconnector for the security of supply," Muscat said, adding that people were buying the Opposition's propaganda, that the problem was the power-station because the government had failed to inform the people about the issue in time.

In a statement on Tuesday, the PN reiterated that never in 30 years did Malta experience such back-to-back power-cuts and that the government was to blame. 

"The power-cuts are damaging businesses and hurting families in these cold winter days just because of an incompetent and corrupt caretaker Prime Minister," the statement read. 

"The Opposition insists that all facts be published explaining why such power-cuts took place all over Malta. The people have a right to know the whole truth. The people understand that the giant tanker in Delimara is nothing but a symbol of corruption that took over this government and a symbol of a failed project," the PN insisted.

It referred to social media stories doing the rounds on Facebook where it was suggested that there were severe problems inside the power-station and that power-cuts would get worse when employees returned to work after the holiday season.

Enemalta CEO Jason Vella said on Monday that the probability of “something going wrong” would increase in January when the demand for electricity increases.

The peak demand this month has reached 390MW and this could increase to 450MW by January.

During his radio interview, Muscat also insisted that any gifts that he had received during his tenure where donated to the State if they could not be returned back. He was referring to a €20,000 Bvlgari watch he had received from Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, accused of masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

READ ALSO: 'I always returned expensive gifts or left them to the State’, Muscat insists

"Let's not pretend sainthood here. The watch I received will be the first watch to be left to the Maltese state. I declared it. But what happened to the 25 other watches that were presented as gifts to previous administrations when Malta joined the European Union? They are not mentioned in any registry and none of them was left behind," Muscat said, adding that he would not let anyone damage his reputation.