Kallas: Transferring employees back to Elektrilevi will help improve situation

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). July 2023.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). July 2023. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that the speed of repairing storm-induced electricity connection damages should improve after Eesti Energia transfers their employees back under transmission system operator Elektrilevi. Simultaneously, the head of Elektrilevi announced that a billion euros have to be invested over the course of the next five years in building a more storm-resilient electricity network.

"Power outages definitely shouldn't have to last this long," Kallas commented on the storm damage that happened over the weekend. "What I am happy about is the fact that the new head of Eesti Energia has followed the government's directive to transfer the resources and people that were short back to Elektrilevi."

In 2020, Eesti Energia, the owner of Elektrilevi, transferred 670 employees of the TSO to work under Enefit Connect, which belongs to the same group. Approximately 30 employees remained on Elektrilevi's payroll. In September, Elektrilevi announced that from the beginning of 2024, the company's structure will once again include all activities related to the management and administration of the electricity network and customer service, i.e., the services that were referred to Enefit Connect a few years ago.

Kallas noted that she had talked to the management board of Eesti Energia about ways of eliminating the damages caused by storms. "Of course, there is the issue of strengthening the network so that such things do not happen at all. But it [network] has to become better, faster," said Kallas, adding that the necessary decisions have been made for this to happen.

Kallas has expressed that the next step after transferring the employees to Elektrilevi should be the split of Elektrilevi from Eesti Energia. The coalition agreement also calls for the separation of the companies.

Elektrilevi wants a billion euros to build a more storm-resistant electricity network.

The chairman of Elektrilevi's board, Mihkel Härm, said at the electricity network conference on Thursday that considering the weather conditions resulting from climate change, it is necessary to think about the need to invest a billion euros in the construction of a more storm-resistant power grid over the next five years.

"One option is to continue as it is today, keep the focus on the cost of the network service, and try to prevent the decline in the quality of the network service by making small investments. For example, the current network fee provides for investments of around €35 million per year, with which, in the best-case scenario, it is possible to maintain the quality," said Härm.

In his words, an alternative option would be to follow the example of Finland and set a goal for when we want to switch the entire network to underground cable, which requires significantly greater investment.

According to Elektrilevi's calculations, in order to guarantee the investment sum of €200 million per year, the network fee must increase by 2-3 percent every year.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Sofia Suhhareva

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