Electricity

Coronavirus prompts crisis measures in electric power systems in Balkans

Coronavirus prompts crisis measures in electric power systems in Balkans

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Published

March 16, 2020

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Published:

March 16, 2020

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Governments and state-owned operators are imposing constraints and work from home and stepping up hygiene requirements. The coronavirus isn’t affecting the electric power supply for now in the region of Western Balkans.

Power producers and distributors in the Balkans have been introducing emergency procedures to contain the fallout from the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on the electric power system together with other infrastructural pillars, essential for meeting the citizens’ basic needs and security overall.

Of note, measures of social distancing and the slowdown in economic activity will likely result in a drop in demand for power worldwide and thus in Southeastern Europe. Warmer weather may contribute to the easing of the pressure before the season of air conditioning sets in.

Croatia’s national power conglomerate HEP Group has instructed employees to perform all activities they can at home, especially those in the headquarters in Zagreb. A worker there was one of the first people in the country whose contagion was confirmed, three weeks ago. At the time, the person’s close coworkers were told not to come to their workplaces.

Utility bills can be paid with delay of two or three months

Elektroprivreda Srbije, EPS, has formed a crisis team and said it undertook all necessary measures. Minister of mining and energy Aleksandar Antić has stressed the procedures for employees’ conduct are being redefined for a seamless continuation of production and distribution.

The spread of the coronavirus hasn’t affected the electric power company’s operations, he claimed. Earlier, EPS banned travel and delayed meetings. Prime minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić said the government would suspend receiving customers at desks throughout the administration. The move may apply for state-owned EPS.

Elderly consumers will be able to pay utility bills with a delay of two or three months, depending on how long the crisis lasts, and without interest, she said. Serbia has introduced a state of emergency.

Serbian administration is about to stop face-to-face customer services across the system

Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine (EPBiH) and EPHZHB, government-controlled firms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, have said the supply is regular. The former also stressed it has stepped up hygienic measures and called on customers nevertheless to pay bills electronically, adding there is no fee for users of its e-service.

No more than three people in one room due to coronavirus

Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske – ERS, the third state-owned power utility in BiH, also halted business travel. It employs more than 10,000 people. Everyone who can works from home and there can only be up to three people at the same time in rooms in the company’s premises.

Pregnant women, older employees and those with sensitive health are especially spared. ERS said the workspace must be disinfected every day and that essential workers would get protective equipment.

ELES starts isolated 14-day shifts at control center 

Slovenia’s transmission company ELES said its team of six at the national control center would be isolated for 14 days. It added it would then be replaced by colleagues that have been in home quarantine. The first extraordinary efforts were rolled out on February 24 and they have been adjusted since, the press release adds.

The coronavirus has prompted basic preventative measures in HSE Group, the country’s main electric power producer, and its subsidiaries. The group of five distributors in Slovenia also said a crisis protocol has been rolled out and vowed to exchange key personnel if necessary.

The nuclear power plant in Krško introduced body temperature control of everyone coming in and a quarantine for employees returining from Italy

NEK in Krško has banned visits and travel and imposed a two-week quarantine for all employees returning to Italy. Meetings have been switched to online. The nuclear power plant’s management introduced body temperature control for all those entering.

ESM: There is no water shortage

Vasko Kovachevski, chief executive of ESM, denied claims the reservoirs at hydropower plants in North Macedonia are at a minimum and asserted the level of water has been rising. However, he acknowledged output is at only 70% of the plan and asserted the firm is responsible and aware of the importance of natural resources. There is enough water for drinking and irrigation, according to the CEO, who also stated the situation was similar or even worse in 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2008.

Production at hydropower plants run by North Macedonia’s dominant electric power company ESM is 30% below plan

The Government of Kosovo* has said the Ministry of Economy would oversee the work of electricity producer KEK, distributor KEDS and transmission system operator KOSTT to ensure a stable supply.

Greek power company workers are restricted in movement

EnergyPress reported Greece’s main power producer PPC, also known as DEI, adopted some of the new protocol from Italy. The other country is the most heavily affected in Europe by the coronavirus and the Greek firm revealed its workers in the electric power system can only move to work and back.

Furthermore, they can’t use public transport but only their private vehicles. The utility’s employees must avoid colleagues from different shifts. PPC said only five customers at a time can enter its public offices and that there is video surveillance at the entrances.

PPC’s employees in the field can only go to work and back home and only with private cars, and they mustn’t mix with the people from different shifts

It encouraged interested parties to turn to the call center and the company website. Teleworking at the firm has been expanding and vulnerable employees are being spared, the statement adds.

Online customer centers adding services

There is now more work from home also at the Independent Power Transmission Operator – IPTO or ADMIE, and electricity distribution network operator HEDNO. The latter stressed it upgraded its contact center to cover almost all the services it provides.

The media outlet noted investors are faced with further delays in connecting to the grid. There was already a glut in application processing in the photovoltaic sphere and auctions for solar and wind power are due.

The next round, scheduled by the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) for April 2, is still on, as it should be conducted electronically. Apart from that, there have been reports on a slowdown in deliveries of solar panels from China.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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