Germany struggles to restore power after storm

29th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2005, MUENSTER, GERMANY - About 10,000 Germans were still without electricity as dusk fell Tuesday, four days after a freak snowstorm brought 50 pylons and hundreds of power lines crashing down in Germany's worst blackout for 60 years.

29 November 2005

MUENSTER, GERMANY - About 10,000 Germans were still without electricity as dusk fell Tuesday, four days after a freak snowstorm brought 50 pylons and hundreds of power lines crashing down in Germany's worst blackout for 60 years.

Some 250,000 people suffered outages, either on Friday or when sagging lines had to be disconnected as a precaution, but most were receiving power again Tuesday from emergency generators or via makeshift cables.

The Bundesnetzagentur, Germany's regulator of power and phones created four months ago, ordered the utility RWE to explain the disaster in a mainly rural area along the Dutch border.

RWE said most of those still without power Tuesday were in isolated hamlets. Electricians were labouring to reconnect them.

"We hope most will get power back by tonight," said emergency official Stefan Bergmann.

Wobby pylons near the town of Leer in the snow-covered region were being secured by guy wires anchored to massive army tanks and engineering vehicles. Other steel pylons were being held steady by some of Germany's biggest truck cranes.

Ruediger Hoeffer, a professor at Bochum, said the weight of ice on the power-lines and swinging caused by fierce winds had created forces that made the pylons buckle last week.

Heiko Neus, an expert at an Aachen technology college, said the pylons had met the same standards as in the Alps of Switzerland and Austria, but were not as sturdy as those in the snowy wastes of Russia and Canada.

Residents who have stoically cooked on camping stoves, dressed in many layers of warm clothing and shared in an outpouring of community spirit began to voice impatience Tuesday at the continuing delay.

Albrecht Philipps, a Lutheran minister, said he had noticed a mood shift in some, who were saying, "It's about time this was over."

On Monday night, more than 90,000 people in the region near the city of Muenster went to bed without power.

With some of the jury-rigged power-lines collapsing as loads built up, RWE said in Dortmund it could not make any predictions about when all the remaining homes would receive power again.

RWE has insisted it is not liable for damages, saying that in insurance terms, the blackout was an "act of God".

While there have been blackouts in Germany affecting millions of people, experts said the Muenster failure was unique in duration.

The chamber of industry and trade in Muenster said production losses caused by the outage had mounted to millions of euros.

DPA

Subject: German news

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