Cold weather takes electricity demand to new heights
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Enemalta registered a new seasonal peak load on Monday evening as the cold temperatures encouraged more customers to switch on their air conditioners and other electric heaters to keep their homes warm.
The electricity grid load, being the amount of electricity distributed through the national electricity network and consumed by the customers, reached a new all-time seasonal high of 410 MW at approximately 7pm on Monday, the 9th of January.
Enemalta said that Malta has never reached such levels of electricity consumption during the same season in previous years. The previous peak of this season, 402 MW, was registered in February 2005. The winter peak is now nearing the overall all-time peak of 438 MW, reached in July 2015.
During Monday’s peak, the greatest share of electricity supply to the Company’s customers was being supplied through local power stations, namely the Delimara 1 and the Delimara 3 HFO-fired plants and the Delimara 2 diesel-fired plants, Enemalta said.
The remaining demand was met by the Malta-Italy Interconnector, which can add up to 192 MW of electrical energy to the Maltese national grid from sources in Sicily. At the same time, there was no input from grid-connected renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic panels.
Enemalta said that last week, as the cold weather was forecast, it took additional measures to make sure that its electricity generation infrastructure and the electricity distribution network are ready for the expected increase in demand.
“As consumption increased, the Company also prepared its technical teams for an increase in requests for assistance from customers with disruptions in their electricity services, including storm damages, overloading or other individual or network difficulties.”
Enemalta added that it has teams of technicians on standby at all times, Monday to Sunday, to respond to customers’ request for assistance and resolve their technical difficulties. “During the last few days, additional teams of engineers, technicians and customer care agents were available to provide additional support and assist customers in the shortest time possible.”
Priority was given to difficulties affecting vulnerable customers, including elderly persons. The Company said that these employees are also on standby to deal with storm damages and other network difficulties, which may not necessarily affect customers’ services but would risk supply disruptions if left unattended.
Every request for assistance from customers is then followed up by the Company’s engineers, who, it said, “identify patterns of localised changes in demand and implement the necessary long-term network reinforcements to minimise the risk of similar disruptions as electricity demand continues to increase.”
Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi, Enemalta Executive Chairman, thanked the Company employees for doing their utmost to meet this sudden increase in electricity demand and to assist customers in difficulty.
“We understand that at times like this, electricity becomes even more essential to our customers. Electricity supply difficulties and natural faults can be reduced but cannot be eliminated. Yet, this is no consolation to us or to our customers. Our vision is to aim for a situation where there are no customers with difficulties in using our services. This is why we are constantly investing in improving the quality of our services through network upgrades, training of staff and the introduction of new support options. We are grateful to our customers for their support to our employees during these periods of high demand.”
In case of difficulties, customers are advised to request urgent assistance by contacting the Enemalta Customer Care team on the 24/7 helpine 8007 2224. For non-urgent requests, customers can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Enemalta said that individuals who experience supply disruptions should first check that the main switch on the smart meter, and the main circuit breakers (MCBs) and the residual current device (‘salvavita’) in their distribution board (consumer unit) are in the ‘On’ position. “If the smart meter’s digital display is active (showing text and readings), then the difficulty is most likely related to a fault in the customers’ internal installation and not in the supply provided by Enemalta. In such cases, customers would need to contact their authorised electrician.”
Before calling to request assistance, customers are advised to find their account number (printed at the top of utility bills), to make it easier for the customer care agents to identify them and locate their property. If the account number is not available, they can also quote the serial number of their meter.
Photograph: Xewkija Distribution Centre