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Moldovans urged to cut electricity use after missile strikes in Ukraine hit supplies

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova urged citizens on Wednesday to cut back on electricity use during peak times due to a big shortfall in supplies after neighbouring Ukraine suspended exports following Russian missile strikes that hit its energy network.

FILE PHOTO: Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu speaks during a news conference in Chisinau, Moldova November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Vladislav Culiomza/File Photo

The infrastructure ministry said Moldova was experiencing a deficit of between 50 and 100 megawatts following Kyiv’s move, which compounded an already difficult energy situation after Russia’s Gazprom cut natural gas supplies to Moldova by 30%.

“At peak times electricity demand exceeds accessible generating capacity,” the Moldovan ministry said in a statement.

It urged citizens to delay turning on washing machines, dish washers and other home appliances and charging electronic devices such as mobile phones until after 11 pm.

Moldova, a poor former Soviet republic that borders Ukraine and EU member state Romania, was concerned about its energy supplies before Monday’s missile strikes on Ukraine as it is heavily dependent on Russia for gas.

The Russian-owned Kuchurgan thermal power plant (GRES) in Moldova’s breakaway Transdniestria region accounts for some 70% of Moldova’s electricity. But Gazprom cut natural gas supplies to the plant by 30% from Oct. 1 amid a dispute over payments.

Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said later on Wednesday that Romania would help Moldova meet its electricity shortfall, though at a higher price than it pays to GRES and to Ukraine.

Cheap gas from Gazprom to GRES has provided Moldova with relatively low electricity prices in recent years, especially in comparison to neighbouring countries.

Moldova’s pro-Western government has strongly supported Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

Ukraine announced the suspension of electricity exports to the European grid on Monday after Russian missile strikes hit its energy network and killed at least 20 people.

Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Ed Osmond