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Malta wants functioning plant, not just fines from BWSC

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said the Government wanted a functioning powerplant, not fines from BWSC. The problem of not taking delivery of the diesel engines was only legal, and they could be switched on immediately but deliver 42 instead of 45 per cent efficiency.

Answering Opposition questions following his statement, the minister said if the Government took partial delivery of the powerplant, it would have to pay BWSC the respective price and hold on to only 10 per cent of the €1.6 million weekly fine for non-delivery.

Nothing could hold BWSC from operating the power station extension itself in order to curtail the amount of fines payable.

Mr Fenech said the only contestation by BWSC was about the ulterior penalties the Government could impose for the re-operation of parts of the Marsa power station, higher fuel costs and increased emissions. These extra expenses were calculated at €3.6 million per month.

Enemalta Corporation had not yet submitted the relevant claims because the legal aspects were under review.

The Government could recoup payments due to it from payments outstanding to BWSC. The contract had a limit of €24 million in penalties, which meant 15 weeks. If surpassed, this could see the Government rejecting the powerplant and demanding from BWSC a full refund of all moneys paid to date.

Mr Fenech said if the incident had happened after delivery, the whole plant would still be under guarantee but the Government could not impose the weekly penalty.

This was not a question of the turbine not having worked well. It was an incident which could yet be ascribed to human error or a manufacturing defect.

The incident had had nothing to do with prototype technology, which only involved the abatement system. It was a pity it had happened, but now that it had occurred it must be addressed.

Explaining the benefits of making part-payments per milestone on infrastructural projects to avoid financing costs, Mr Fenech said Malta was already paying for progress in the interconnector project with Sicily.

He promised to table results of tests if there was a recurrence of sodium bicarbonate being found outside part of the Delimara 2 equipment.

Referring to Opposition Whip Joe Mizzi’s publication of photos showing the damage to the turbine, he said that Enemalta had been careful to be in a position to explain what had happened so that people would not be alarmed.

All emission tests on the new powerplant had been made, and all had resulted below the requirements of the ITTP.

Mr Fenech reiterated that the Government was committed to closing down the Marsa power station and to eventually firing the Delimara power station with gas.

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