10 kilometres of new high voltage underground cables are being laid in Mellieha to replace the old overhead lines that currently supply electricity to Gozo, in a €1.6 million investment by Enemalta.
The Company said that this will improve the reliability and security of the electricity distribution network supplying the island of Gozo.
It said that “the replacement of old 33kV overhead lines with new underground cables will reduce the risk of storm damage and other difficulties associated with the operation, repair and maintenance of overhead lines.”
Adding that it will also lead to the elimination of the visual impact of these aerial lines and their pylons across kilometres of countryside in Mellieha.
Gozo and Comino customers receive their electricity through submarine cables connected to the Vendôme Distribution Centre at Armier Bay. The Company said that this distribution centre is supplied from the Mellieha Distribution Centre through three alternative connections.
Enemalta said that two of these connections include a set of two parallel 33kV lines suspended on 33 pylons across a distance of 4.5 kilometres across the countryside between the two distribution centres. The pylons, which reach heights of up to eight storeys, were erected between 1986 and 1988.
It explained that these are the longest stretch of overhead 33kV lines still in use in Malta, extending all the way from the locality’s residential area down to Ghadira Bay, before taking a steep climb to the Red Tower area of L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha, until they reach the Vendôme Distribution Centre.
Enemalta started laying two new XLPE-insulated 33 kV underground cable connections earlier this month between the two distribution centres. It said that once these new connections are energised, the old overhead lines and their pylons will be dismantled.
Excavation and cable laying works at the Ghadira Bay area, will make up the first phase of the project. This work will be ready before summer.
Enemalta said that between June and September it will be laying cables in other sections of the route to avoid traffic disruptions close to the area’s beaches.
The final excavation and cable laying works are expected to be ready in autumn 2017, the Company said. As part of these works, Enemalta said that it is also increasing the capacity of the Mellieha Bay area through the development of a new 11kV substation.
The electricity supply to Gozo was further reinforced during the last two years through another two major developments. In 2015 Enemalta said that it commissioned a new distribution centre at Xewkija to provide the necessary security of supply by ending the island’s dependency on the existing 1987 distribution centre at Qala.
Then, last year the Mellieha Distribution Centre was also upgraded – the network node supplying electricity to Gozo. Engineers and technicians from Enemalta replaced its 1973 transformers and switchgear to double its capacity and ensure an adequate level of redundancy even during the peak summer months.
This upgrade of electricity supply to Gozo forms part of Enemalta’s €80 million plus Network Reinforcement Project across the Maltese Islands. The Company added that this investment was launched in 2014 to consolidate the reliability and flexibility of the national electricity distribution network, whilst providing the necessary infrastructure to meet the rising demand for electricity in different regions.
The company said that this project also includes the upgrading of another four distribution centres with new equipment, to replace old infrastructure whilst increase network redundancy and capacity.
Enemalta concluded by saying that the network was also reinforced through the addition of 100 kilometres of new underground high voltage cable connections as well as new equipment in over 200 11kV substations.