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What’s Going On With The Temporary Power Plant? Here’s What We Know

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Summer’s here and some power cuts have already hit the island, so what happened to a project that was meant to alleviate this longstanding problem?

A few months ago, Enemalta issued a tender for the commissioning of a 60MW temporary diesel-powered emergency plant to address the country’s energy capacity in peak summer months.

The tender was awarded to UNEC, a company wholly owned by the Bonnici Brothers.

The decision had raised eyebrows at the time since one of the key requirements for successful bidders was that they had to have experience in leasing of power plants in the past three years, with a minimum contract value of €10 million over such years.

While UNEC operates in the field of industrial equipment trade and commercial vehicle trading, it has yet to clarify what experience it or its parent company have in terms of leasing power stations.

Questions sent to the Bonnici Brothers and UNEC by this newsroom seeking clarification remain unanswered.

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli has confirmed that UNEC would be subcontracting the project to a Saudi company, arguing that this was permitted by the tender.

Industry insiders however insist that the tender document unequivocally states that the bidder itself, not the subcontractors, should have the required experience.

Although these might sound like minor details, they could have major implications. Last week, the Court of Appeal threw out a €600 million tender for Magħtab Incinerator that had been awarded to the Bonnici Brothers and French waste giants Paprec on the grounds that members of the original panel and board had a conflict of interest.

The developments on this project are particularly crucial as the country enters the summer months.

Malta faced multiple power cuts last year, some lasting days, and a major country-wide blackout occurred just last week.

Although Miriam Dalli has claimed that last year’s power cuts were due to infrastructural issues, a letter sent in November 2023 by ex-Enemalta chairman Ryan Fava to the Environmental Resources Authority categorically claimed that:

“Enemalta anticipates that the demand in summer of 2024 will rise even higher and that unless the (temporary power plant) Project is commissioned by intended date, that is, before summer of 2024, it will not be able to guarantee security of electricity supply”.

To date, it is unclear what stage this project has reached and Lovin Malta has sent questions for clarification.

While Enemalta has invested millions in improving the infrastructure on the island, including by laying over 70km of new underground cables in the worst hit towns, it’s unclear whether this will be enough to battle the looming darkness that tends to plague Malta in the peak of the heat.

What are your thoughts on this tender?

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