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Newsletter Archive > July 2008

Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 23.03.2009

July 2008

Dear Friends of Kythera,

the Greek summer school holidays have begun and the island is starting to fill up. Within a week or two the high-season will begin and empty beaches will be a fond memory. The heat has also begun, and the fire season with it. On Friday morning a fire broke out close to Agia Pelagia, destroying hundreds of trees including those of our faithful-blog-queen Anna Comino. Below you'll find her nostalgic writing on the loss.

Our petition calling for the local authorities to take note of public worries in regard to the plans to construct dozens of wind-turbines on the island has passed the 400 mark and we plan to present it to the mayor next week. Being on the island myself has enabled me to interview many people well-informed of the wind-farm plans. The Greek electricity authority (RAE) has received, as of mid-June, a total of 4 applications for wind-farms on Kythera. They would have a generating capacity of 160MW. The current generation of turbines can generate between 1MW and 4MW and are between 120 and 150 meters in height (the great Cheops Pyramid is 138 meters tall). It's likely that they intend to use 2MW turbines rather than those which are larger, as the 3 and 4MW ones are still rare and expensive and extremely difficult to transport and construct. Thus 160MW total capacity provided by 2MW turbines would mean 80 turbines. This may only be the start. A maximum of 150 turbines may be built on a single Greek island, unless the local council requests more, in which case a total of 225 could be constructed. If the turbine companies are going to spend a fortune laying a new high-voltage cable to the Peloponnese grid then they will want to construct as many as possible on the island to optimise their investment.

But let's just start with the 80 they have applied to construct. The letter from the energy authority also states where the turbines would be constructed:

a. 42 MW in the Krotiri-Kefalakia area.
Kefalakia: the hills above Agia Pelagia
Krotiri: next to Dourianika/Perligianika

b. 30 MW in Finikies;
this is a hill just west of Logothetianika

c. 30 MW on Mount Mermingaris;
just south of Milopotamos

d. 48 MW in Akrotiri-Kefalovouni-Pyrgos area.
Kefalovouni-Pyrgos: between Aroniathika and Milopotamos
Krotiri: next to Dourianika/Perligianika

The ideal place for turbines is as high as possible so it is unlikely they would be placed hidden behind hills. At the top of the mountains listed above the massive turbines would be visible from half the island, including Potamos, Milopotamos, Agia Pelagia and Kalokerines to name just a few. Once permission is given for the construction of the first turbines, the entire island would automatically become an "industrial zone" allowing further development. An island which would need, on average, three 2MW turbines to satisfy its needs, would be saddled with 80 and could be burdened with 225 of them. And the skyline of Kythera would be changed for generations.

The question you may be asking, as many of us were, is why they don't construct them on the Peloponnese where wind is in ample supply and the connection to the grid already exists? Well, to some extent they are, or at least they are trying to. The resistance there is considerable but, more importantly, the Greek politicians in Athens consider the electorate on the Peloponnese more important politically than those on Kythera. But if they think Kythera will be a soft touch they underestimate the determination of many Kytherians to spoil the wind-turbine party. A poster in English and Greek is being plastered in many shop-windows on the island - which you can see at
/download/windfarm.pdf (English version) or
/download/windfarmGR.pdf (Greek version).
And you can see photo-simulations of how the wind-farms might look here: .

>Next TAG meeting
For those of you on the island the Turbine Action Group (TAG) will be meeting this Wednesday at Selana's cafe in the Platia in Potamos at 7.30pm. All are welcome, even those who think the wind-farm proposals are a good idea. As previously mentioned, we are all for renewable energies, but the burden should be shared equally and big business should not push through its optimal "solution" without regard to the wishes of the island's population.

Best regards from the cafe in Aroniathika,

James Prineas Team Leader Europe

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>52 Weeks In Tsirigo – Up In Smoke

Recent experience allows me to earnestly confirm that Kythera is an Enigma! Just when you feel you have a handle on the island’s machinations and have ‘it’ all worked out. Realising a deep sense of how the complex social, earthly and spiritual stratospheres co-exists (relatively problem-free), existence blows a fuse and it all goes up in smoke – literally. Such has been the unfolding of the events the past week as we helplessly watched as a red-hot wall of flames rage just behind Agia Pelagia, endangering homes and estates, all saved primarily by the arrival of the surreal water-planes and a bucket helicopter.

In my first blog on 03.12.2007 I wrote with ladida-ness, ‘the olive-trees are talking to us, meaning they need a 'klathema' (a pruning). Today they are mourning, burnt to a black crisp, consumed by fire in the Agia Patrikia area (coastal between Agia Pelagia and Karavas), completely burning out a large rich olive grove district, that included my 127 olives trees, four figs and six pear trees.

It is obvious to speculate that both the fires could have been the handiwork of some calculating arsonist (a touch of the lone-gunman theory). But it is most probable that it was due to an electrical short-circuit, considering that the underwater electrical cable that provides electricity from mainland Peloponnese to the island runs directly through the burnt-out area and that DEH (the Greek Electricity Co) sub-contractors where working directly on the poles.

My terraced olive-field was originally gifted by my great-grandmother Georgia (Vayena) Crithary to the first grandchild to return from Australia, fortunately that was my Dad Nick. Vayena was a fierce Karavitissa from another era, having seen photos of her in her fifties, she had the proud, sun-baked features of an American Indian. She was indigenous, Kytherian indigenous. She had grown-up on the island and never left it though many in her direct family had. Family legend has it she once walked to Agia Pelagia and knocked on the door of her younger sister and dragged her to the very field by the hair, for cutting down grapevine……ok so fierce may be an understatement.

I have these vivid childhood memories, from 1970, of my dad Nick and maternal papou (grandfather) Georgios (Sarantakos) Zantiotis, hand-digging these deep holes in the terraced earth and carefully planting each young olive tree. After a ten month stay in Kythera, we returned to Australia and my papou continued to lovingly tend the trees, becoming the fertile symbol of our ‘impending’ return. My dad gifted me the ‘field of hope’ in 2006 and I often go there to walk the stone-terraces and contemplate. I am not embarrassed to say I have even hugged a couple of olive trees. (Never on a full-moon, but that’s another story).

The fire was extinguished in the first few hours (the hypothetical scenario would have been disastrous for the northern part of the island). But giving credit where credit is due, cement lord and deputy-mayor Michalis Makras mobilised domestic and industrial water-vehicles in record time (even sought the raw sewerage trucks carrying water…now that’s Kytherian spirit). Co-ordination of local, state and national resources appeared to come together painlessly and widespread damage was avoided.

But it is all gooooood!!! Olive trees grow back (it will take about 6-7 years to fruit again), no one got hurt and no domestic farm animals were sacrificed. All is settled in Agia Pelagia again. The icy-frappes flow freely, while the fire-trucks are stationed on lookout over the blackened moonscape. Strangely it is only in the field’s destruction that the sum total of its dramatic symbolism is now obvious.

Anna Cominos

PS. If you are wondering whether the electrical fire could have been averted with the construction of windmills on Kythera, the answer is NO! In fact in a general power failure they will not work, plus they cannot not supply power to the island, it all planned to be sent off-shore.

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