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Power cuts plunge western Europe into darkness

German utility E.ON said reports of the cuts began to emerge not long after it shut down a high voltage line over a river in northwestern Germany to let a ship pass through in safety, and that this may have been linked to the power loss. "In the past, these operations were often performed without any problems arising," the firm said, adding that the precise cause behind the loss in supply was still being investigated........In Spain, the fall in tension caused 2,800 megawatts of wind energy and one gas-fired power station to be cut off and interrupted the flow of electricity to Morocco, it added.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A massive power outage temporarily plunged millions of homes across western Europe into darkness and initial findings suggested a routine safety operation in Germany may have been to blame, authorities said on Sunday.

The impact of the power cuts at around 2130 GMT on Saturday night was felt in heavily populated areas of Germany, France and Italy, as well as parts of Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, and even extended as far as Morocco.

The cuts prompted German government calls for an immediate explanation into the causes and renewed demands from top politicians for a shake-up of Europe's troubled energy policy.

A spokesman for a French union said the outage was the worst in France in 30 years. Some European train services were disrupted.

French media estimated some five million people were affected, while authorities in Germany said at least one million there were left without power. The outages, most of which lasted for less than an hour, were also widespread in northern Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the blackout showed the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BERLIN (Reuters) - A massive power outage temporarily plunged millions of homes across western Europe into darkness and initial findings suggested a routine safety operation in Germany may have been to blame, authorities said on Sunday.

The impact of the power cuts at around 2130 GMT on Saturday night was felt in heavily populated areas of Germany, France and Italy, as well as parts of Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, and even extended as far as Morocco.

The cuts prompted German government calls for an immediate explanation into the causes and renewed demands from top politicians for a shake-up of Europe's troubled energy policy.

A spokesman for a French union said the outage was the worst in France in 30 years. Some European train services were disrupted.

French media estimated some five million people were affected, while authorities in Germany said at least one million there were left without power. The outages, most of which lasted for less than an hour, were also widespread in northern Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the blackout showed the need for a common European energy authority and policy.

"It's a rich contradiction that we depend on each other but we can't help each other without a common authority ... we still don't have a European energy policy," he told reporters.

German utility E.ON said reports of the cuts began to emerge not long after it shut down a high voltage line over a river in northwestern Germany to let a ship pass through in safety, and that this may have been linked to the power loss.

"In the past, these operations were often performed without any problems arising," the firm said, adding that the precise cause behind the loss in supply was still being investigated.

BITTER DISPUTES

Bitter disputes surrounding mergers -- including E.ON's efforts to buy its Spanish rival Endesa -- have hampered efforts by the European Union to formulate a collective energy policy.

German Economy Minister Michael Glos said he was expecting a prompt report from E.ON about what had happened.

"We will examine this report quickly so that together with the companies we can ensure that, if at all possible, such events are not repeated," he said in a statement.

A spokesman for German utility RWE Rhein Ruhr said that because electricity was supplied on a shared network, the loss in power had spilt over into other areas.

The spokesman said more than one million people in the RWE Rhein Ruhr network were probably affected, including inhabitants in the cities of Cologne, Essen and Gelsenkirchen.

Spanish electricity grid operator Red Electrica de Espana reported that parts of Spain and Portugal suffered power cuts caused by a problem in Germany.

In Spain, the fall in tension caused 2,800 megawatts of wind energy and one gas-fired power station to be cut off and interrupted the flow of electricity to Morocco, it added.

German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said more than 100 mostly regional train services were disrupted.

Belgian news agency Belga said some 11 municipalities in the country suffered power loss and that some trains were delayed.

Austrian Power Grid AG, a subsidiary of Austrian utility Verbund, said in a statement Europe had had a lucky escape.

"If this had happened during a normal workday, there is no telling what the consequences would have been," it said.


Source: http://today.reuters.co.uk/...

NOV 5 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/5616-power-cuts-plunge-western-europe-into-darkness
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