Minister: Compensation must be paid for Saaremaa storm power outages
Private citizens, firms and local government alike must be compensated for on the island of Saaremaa, following lengthy power outages in the wake of Storm Birgit, which struck a week ago, economics affairs minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) says.
Sikkut said: "The far-reaching, week-long power outages caused by the recent, extraordinary weather conditions show that we are not sufficiently prepared for crises.
"To have to manage without electricity for a whole week is a harsh and incomprehensible situation to have to deal with in the 21st century. Following the full restoration of electricity connections on the islands, we will face three important tasks: We must draw conclusions on cooperation during a crisis, the next year's network investment agreement, while people must be compensated for their losses," the minister went on.
"Extraordinary weather conditions are something which we must be better prepared for in future. Severe storms, heavy snow or rain showers and temperatures tending towards extremes are the direct result of climate change, meaning the infrastructure must be made more and more resistant," the minister added.
The electricity grid must be made more weatherproof, while important improvements must be made regarding cooperation between concerned parties, in order to react more quickly in a crisis situation, Sikkut added.
"This means specific steps plus an investment plan must be established in cooperation with Elektrilevi, the rescue board, the competition authority, ministries and local governments," she continued.
In addition, people and businesses have suffered losses due to lengthy power outages, for instance due to having to spend money on the purchase of generators and keeping them running. Damage payments must now be compensated in cooperation with insurance firms, Elektrilevi and the state, Sikkut said, though more concrete measures have not yet been established, ERR reports.
Over 1,200 Saaremaa households were still without power as of Thursday, grid maintenance firm Elektrilevi said.
Dubbed Storm Birgit, windy conditions started on Saturday, December 10, while full-on blizzards struck through the course of Monday and affected much of the country, with Saaremaa hardest hit.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov