By Stefanos Evripidou
REPORTS yesterday surfaced that the Turkish Cypriot electricity authority was looking to buy electricity from the government-controlled areas to feed its increased energy needs as a result of the pending operation of a water pipeline from Turkey.
Phileleftheros yesterday published a front page article, reporting that Turkish Cypriot electricity officials were holding contacts with the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to discuss the possible purchase and supply of electricity to the occupied areas.
According to the paper, the aim is to cover the breakaway state’s energy needs as a result of the soon-to-be operational pipeline, due to bring 75 million cubic metres of water from Turkey to the north.
To get the water from the reception point at sea into the north’s water system, pumps and other systems will need to be used, requiring additional energy, possibly up to 50 megawatts, wrote the paper.
The paper further writes that the Turkish Cypriot authorities prefer buying electricity from the EAC than renewing the permit of a Turkish businessman to provide electricity from a power plant in the Gastria area, which saw a fuel leak last year.
At the same time, the EAC is reportedly happy to sell its energy and add to its emptying coffers, following the downturn in demand as a result of the economic crisis.
The report noted that President Nicos Anastasiades was aware of the informal meetings between the two authorities and supported the move, seeing it as a possible confidence-building measure.
EDEK MP Giorgos Varnavas reacted to the report yesterday, saying if true, it created a huge issue of the indirect recognition of an illegal regime while lending legitimacy to Turkey’s invasive actions of supply water to the north via pipeline.
“Have we perhaps forgotten that there is an occupation and that we can’t discuss all issues based on economic criteria?”
The Citizens’ Alliance released a statement saying deals between the government and occupation regime were “dangerously” on the increase and would lead to the latter’s recognition.
EVROKO’s Andreas Televantos said if the reports are true, then this is an “outrageous and irresponsible national endeavour”.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, EAC spokesman Costas Gavrielides said the EAC did not examine the issue of selling electricity to the occupied areas or of supplying them with electricity for this specific water project.
“We have not had any official or unofficial request to supply this (water) project or sell electricity to the occupied areas,” he said, adding, “The EAC board has not been informed about such a request.”
Gavrielides confirmed that since April 2012- when the EAC stopped buying electricity from the north- two meetings have been held between Turkish Cypriot and EAC engineers at a technical level to discuss resolving technical issues which exist regarding the interconnection of the two electricity grids on the island.
“That was the purpose of the meeting,” he said.
The spokesman explained that in two or three cases in the past, electricity has been sold either from the government-controlled areas to the north (under the presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos) and vice-versa under Demetris Christofias following the Mari explosion and destruction of the Vassilikos power plant.
“We wanted this link, but the interconnection has a number of technical problems which we wanted to look at.”
The EAC wants to keep the option open of allowing electricity to be transmitted from one direction to the other, in the event the need arises, to the benefit of both communities.
This means improving interconnection, considering how old the transmission lines between the two sides of the island are. “That can’t be done in a few hours when the need arises,” he said.
Gavrielides was categorical that the two teams of engineers did not discuss selling electricity or this specific water project in the north, nor was such a demand made.
However, he did not rule out the possibility Turkish Cypriots had an energy supply need and were considering purchasing electricity from the EAC.
A government source said the two teams of engineers exchanged ideas on a technical level. The source said the government was not against the idea of selling electricity to the north if needed, but would have to first examine the reasons behind the request, hinting that feeding the water project would not be without problems.