Report on Italian electricity blackouts raises political questions

Electricity grid operators from Austria, Italy, France, Slovenia
and Switzerland have released an interim report on the chain of
events led to the blackout in Italy on 28 September.

The long-awaited report on the causes of the recent blackout in
Italy was released by the Union for the Coordination of
Transmission of Electricity (UCTE) on 27 October, stating that the
blackout occurred after two separate lines carrying power from
Switzerland into Italy shut down after being hit by trees during a
storm. 

Normally, the Italian system should have been able to operate in
isolation of the European grid. but in this case, the events in
Switzerland caused the shut down of several generation plants in
Italy, which made it impossible for the Italian system to keep
operating.

UCTE cites a number of reasons for the blackouts, including the
lack of a sense of urgency by the Swiss authorities. This lack of
urgency was one factor which led to inadequate countermeasures
being taken in Italy. The Swiss system co-ordinator Etrans rejected
this claim, and criticised the report for ignoring "grave
weaknesses" in Italy's handling of its own network.

The reports comes amid debate on the reasons behind power cuts
in several Member States, including Denmark, Sweden, the UK and
Italy. While the Commission and industry have been calling for
increased investment in electricity infrastructure to prevent
blackouts, critics such as the green lobby emphasise that
decentralised power production would be a more efficient (and also
cheaper) option.

UCTE will now look into the lessons learnt and actions to be
undertaken, and a new report is expected in November.

 

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