Many companies affected by storm in southern Estonia cannot claim damages

Power line repairs. Source: Elektrilevi

The storm that struck southern Estonia several weeks ago is classified as a force majeure by the law, leaving many companies unable to sue Elektrilevi for damage to their businesses after power outages.

Under normal circumstances Elektrilevi malfunctions must be rectified within 16 hours, but in the case of an emergency situation, such as the storm, the malfunctions must be remedied within 72 hours. This means that only customers who were without power for 72 hours or longer will be able to file a claim for damages, ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera (AK) reported on Friday.

So far Elektrilevi has received 100 claims, of which 48 have already been settled.

"The freezers thawed, the produce there was spoiled. But the €16,000 that Elektrilevi has now compensated for these 48 claims is certainly not the amount that many companies have suffered when we talk about the food or wood industry," said Elektrilevi board member Andres Tõnissaar.

Nopri farm was without electricity for 45 hours and estimate the damage to be €5,000 but will not be able to make a claim. "I value my time and nerves, and I will not pursue it anymore," farm owner Tiit Niilo told AK.

Larger timber companies, as well as dairy company Valio Eesti's Võru plant, will not claim for damages as the electricity was only out for a few hours.

"In fact, this is a situation where the company's own willingness to cope within 72 hours plays an important role," said Tõnissaar.

"There are huge sums involved. On the one hand, it is the purchase of generators, on the other hand, the preparation of our own electrical systems. In any case, today we are seriously considering preparing for such interruptions in the future," said Maidu Solovjov, Managing Director of Valio Eesti.

But for some businesses, the cost to protect themself from future storms or emergencies is too high.

"€40-50,000 would be a real additional investment that a processing company would need to invest in. Unfortunately, today, we can't handle major investments, let alone emergency investments," Niilo of Nopri farm said.

In the case of Elektrilevi's proposal that businesses look out for themselves, it remains unclear how, if a million-dollar telecommunications company such as Telia cannot provide backup for themselves in the event of a power outage, low-margin companies or families on the poverty line should be able to do so.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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