Reducing bills through power station conversion will take years - ministry
Updated - Adds PL reaction
The Finance Ministry said today that statements by Opposition leader Joseph Muscat that electricity bills would be reduced thanks to the conversion of the power station to use gas meant that this promise could not be kept in the next five years.
The ministry said that statements by Dr Muscat at yesterday's mass meeting showed that Labour would not reduce power tariffs in the next five years.
It said that several years would be needed for a gas pipeline to Malta to be laid, and funding from the EU had to be sourced first. Such funding could not start before 2014. That would have to be followed by the tendering process and permits from the country which will host one end of the pipeline, followed by the manufacturing of the pipeline.
The experience in the laying of the interconnector showed that this whole process would take more than five years.
Furthermore, Dr Muscat did not know what the price of gas would be, five years on.
The ministry said the government remained committed to convert the power station to gas when the infrastructure was in place, and it had started the process for EU financial assistance.
The ministry said Dr Muscat had changed his version four times on the power station, having first suggested the use of diesel, then he suggested a reduction in investment followed by the use f carbon technology, before coming round to the use of gas.
PN LACKS CREDIBILITY - PL
In a counter-statement, the PL said the Nationalist government had no credibility on this issue. First it said the bills could not be reduced. Now it was saying they could not be reduced for the time being.
The bottom line, however, was that the government should have built the power station to operate on gas from the outset, saving time and money.