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Polluting power plant is ‘a must’ says energy minister

Energy Minister George Papanastasiou at the Dhekelia power plant
Energy Minister George Papanastasiou at the Dhekelia power plant

The highly polluting Dhekelia power plant must be upgraded because it is “very important” for the state, Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou said on Friday.

His statements are in line with a long-standing request by unions of workers at the electricity authority (EAC) who have been calling for the upgrading of the outdated and cost-inefficient units of the Larnaca power station.

The minister recognised that the plant burns very polluting fuel but said it must continue to operate since the state has a “desperate need” for its energy production. Its location is also important “to keep the system in balance”.

Thus, the minister said it must be supported by the state and upgraded along with the EAC.

After speaking with the staff of the power station during his on-site visit, Papanastasiou explained that Dhekelia burns primarily fuel oil and admitted that Cyprus lags behind in many energy issues.

This has led to taxpayers having to cover the cost of the fines for pollutants imposed to the country by the EU. “In many energy issues we have lagged behind. We always come after the fact to say that we are late for something.

“We cannot control the past and the present now that we are living it. What we can control is the future and that is what we will do,” he declared.

There is an estimated “five-year plan, plus maybe the upgrade of the plant,” the energy minister said, noting that “the Dhekelia plant is very important to the state and it must remain in operation.”

For her part, the president of the Board of Directors of EAC Despina Panagiotou Theodosiou, said the authority was satisfied with the minister’s assurance that the station will continue to operate since “for several years there was an uncertainty about the future of this plant”.

EAC will now focus on the upgrade of the station, she said.

“There is the development programme of the EAC and within it there is a special programme for Dhekelia,” Theodosiou said.

“The studies have already been done. We are now looking at the various scenarios that come out of the study and when we are ready, we will present them to the minister and the ministry so that we can make decisions,” she added.

Asked whether EAC expects financial support from the government, Theodosiou replied that “we are not at this stage”.

Explaining the issues of the Dhekelia station, she said “there are problems as in all stations.  It is a station where some of the units are quite old but our people are taking care of the maintenance until the upgrade is done.”

Meanwhile, the energy minister also referred to the decision to stop subsidising fuel which he insisted was justified because the prices of petroleum products have dropped now.

Regarding the tendency of the residents of the Republic to queue at the crossing points so as to fill their tanks with cheap fuel from the north, the minister said “I would discourage it”.

“I understand that…[but] 8 cents will not save us if we put fuel in our car today.”

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