Bad weather forces power outages but Ukraine grid operator hopeful
KYIV, March 28 (Reuters) - Ukraine's national grid operator imposed emergency electricity shutdowns in eight Ukrainian regions on Tuesday because of bad weather and said Russian attacks had affected the power supply in some frontline areas.
But the head of the operator, Ukrenergo, expressed optimism that the network could meet consumer needs in the next few months provided power plants damaged in Russian attacks were repaired in good time.
"The Ukrainian energy system is part of the European system. That means we have the opportunity to import power if we don't have enough of our own," Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted company CEO Volodymyr Kudrytskyi as telling national television.
"It is important to carry on with repairs, particularly on those energy units at thermal and hydroelectric stations that were damaged to be able to mobilise resources to the maximum and get through the winter properly."
The latest shutdowns follow an improvement in electricity supplies across Ukraine in recent weeks, in what officials have hailed as a victory in their battle to restore power after months of Russian missile and drone strikes.
Ukrenergo said storms, wind, snow and rain in seven regions of western Ukraine and in the southern region of Odesa had resulted in blackouts.
It said electricity distribution networks in the Kharkiv region in the northeast, Zaporizhzhia in the southeast and Kherson in the south had been damaged during recent shelling.
"A difficult situation with electricity supply remains in the regions along the front line where the enemy constantly damages the networks with artillery fire," Ukrenergo said in a statement.
"In particular, distribution system operators' networks in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions were damaged yesterday as a result of Russian shelling."
Ukrenergo said it was maintaining limits on consumption in the central Zhytomyr region because of damage to the network during Russian attacks this month.
Ukraine's energy system has survived months of attacks that have at times left millions without power, heating or water.
Officials say about 40% of the energy system has been damaged, and teams of workers continue repairs to restore power and strengthen the energy system.
Weather forecasters expect conditions to deteriorate further this week.
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