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Sofia's obsolete electricity infrastructure needs investment to be updated, conference told

Sofia's obsolete electricity infrastructure needs investment to be updated, conference toldSofia needs investments to update its obsolete energy infrastructure, which is hardly able to bear demands on it and could leave the Bulgarian capital city without power, a roundtable on February 21 2012 on the city's electricity infrastructure was told. Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova told the forum that what mattered most to Sofia municipality was people's personal safety. The city's energy infrastructure was obsolete and needed investments to catch up, Fandukova said.

This could not happen "in a day or two with a magic wand," she said, but with everyone's efforts the process could be speeded up, she said. The municipality wanted as much as possible to be invested to make up for lost time while "maintaining the affordability of electricity prices," Fandukova said.

The weather conditions at the beginning of 2012 had showed how important energy infrastructure is, Petr Dokladal, head of the management board of electricity distribution company CEZ Bulgaria, said. The grid was not suited to cope with sudden changes in the weather, he said.

Energy infrastructure problems could endanger the health and safety of the population, normal economic life, even national security. A collapse of the electricity infrastructure could leave institutions including the Presidency, Parliament, ministerial headquarters, hospitals, subways and embassies in the capital city without power.

Dokladal said that much of the wiring was 30 to 40 years old, increasing the risk of power cuts and the situation was likely to get worse. Urgent measures were required, he said, along with resources that currently had not been approved by the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC).

Dokladal said that if replacement of aging cables began immediately, it would take three to four years to bring the network to normal operational status. Rough estimates by CEZ were that more than 100 million leva was needed to fix the critical points in the high voltage network.

21 February 2012 - Sofia Echo

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