[WATCH] Miriam Dalli and Mark Anthony Sammut clash over power outages

Xtra on TVM | Energy Minister Miriam Dalli defends her actions, saying she shouldered responsibility by mobilising all resources and promising to double investment in power grid • Opposition MP Mark Anthony Sammut argues situation could have been prevented

Miriam Dalli and Mark Anthony Sammut crossed swords over the recent power outages as they accused each other of lacking credibility on energy.

Speaking on TVM's Xtra on Monday night, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli defended her actions, insisting she shouldered responsibility by mobilising all resources to tackle the outages. She said government has also committed itself to double the investment in the power distribution network to improve its resilience.

The minister once again stopped short of apologising for the widespread distress caused to thousands of families and businesses by the power outages but insisted she understood the problems caused and her commitment was to improve the situation.

However, Opposition MP Mark Anthony Sammut claimed the situation could have been avoided with appropriate measures, accusing the minister of being out of touch with the people.

"We are well aware that we reside in the sweltering climate of Malta. Climate change is an established reality, not a novel concept, and the temperatures continue to increase. It comes as no surprise that with the increase in temperatures, the demand also rises," remarked Sammut.

He said the inadequacy of the network's capacity had been a long-standing issue, leading to around 4,800 reports of low voltage or blackouts last year alone.

Dalli said the authorities promptly mobilised to repair damages and provided timely information to the media to keep the public informed.

"Improvements won't happen overnight," Dalli said when pressed by host Saviour Balzan about guaranteeing no more power cuts.

Sammut on the defensive

Regarding the Nationalist Party's proposal to liberalise energy distribution, Sammut said this would give consumers more choice. He argued that consumers should have the freedom to decide where they get their energy from.

However, Dalli warned that liberalisation comes at a cost. She accused Sammut of not being aware of how liberalisation would work, insisting it will lead to higher energy bills. Dalli also noted that abroad each geographical area has a monopoly on distribution.

Dalli went on to cite examples from other countries, adding that in Denmark, consumers pay 50c for each unit of electricity, while in Belgium and the Czech Republic, they pay 45c and 39c, respectively, per unit of electricity.

Sammut rebutted, insisting the minister was scaremongering.