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Monday's papers: Cold may strain power supplies, no to conscription for women, more babies needed

Cold temperatures are forecast across the country for this week and a strain on the power network could lead to rolling blackouts, writes the newspaper Savon Sanomat.

Etelä-Karjalan ensimmäinen vauva 2017
Image: Mikko Savolainen/Yle

A cold snap is driving temperatures down nationwide.

Helsingin Sanomat reports that dry, cold air is sweeping in from the east bringing daytime temperatures of -7C to -10C in the south of the country, with nighttime temperatures dipping down to -20C in some areas.

In addition, winds will make the weather feel even more bitterly cold in the capital region. In central parts of the country the air will be dry and cold, -7C to -15C with the possibility of temperatures below -20C at night.

In the north, the Oulu-based Kaleva tells readers that the week is expected to start off with temperatures around -10C, possibly dropping even further by mid-week. Cloud cover will make a difference. If the latter part of the week is clear and sunny, the thermometer is likely to fall to around -20C.

According to Savon Sanomat the east will be the coldest part of the nation, with temperatures down to -20 or more by sundown this evening. Overall, eastern areas may be 6 to 7 degrees colder than elsewhere in the country, even colder than in northern Lapland.

Strain on power supplies

Savon Sanomat also reports that the severe cold may mean that power companies will have to impose some limits on electricity consumption over the next few days, perhaps even power "rationing".

If power producers and distributors can't keep up with demand, plans are in place that will hit consumers with short, rolling blackouts of an hour or two at a time.

Finland's regular generating capacity is 11,600 MW. If consumption exceeds that level, another 5,100 MW can be accessed from the Scandinavian and Baltic grid.

If national reserves and imports cannot meet demand and industries are unable to cut back enough on use, then power outages will be implemented.

The CEO of the Savon Voima power utility, Arto Sutinen, told the paper that if the situation looks critical, his company will first ask both industrial and private consumers to voluntarily reduce electricity consumption.

He said that if supplies are still strained, the company has plans to cut power for short periods to different areas, but in such a way that the impact would not be "unreasonable".

No to woman conscripts

Several papers, including Turun Sanomat, report that the nation's Defence Command believes that calling up women to register for military service would be both expensive and unnecessary.

In a response to an internal parliamentary inquiry, the military says that including women would double the current 7.4 million euros spent annually on the draft. Most of the extra spending would go into the cost of physical exams, but also there would spending on hiring more personal to process them.

The evaluation is based on the assumption that women would be called up, but that an actual term of military service would still be voluntary.

The Defence Command also pointed to a position paper issued in 2014 saying that there is no need to seek an increase in the number of women who volunteer annually because more trained personnel, even at wartime levels, is not needed.

National Coalition Party MP Sofia Vikman is backing a move to start calling up women, even though she is in favour of continuing to make the decision to serve voluntary. She says that it would further interest among women in taking part in military service and help ensure that the Defence Forces has access to the best talent.

More babies

Over the weekend, the newsstand tabloid Iltalehti  looked at declining birth rates in Finland. In 2010, there were over 60,000 babies born in the country. Last year, there were only just over 52,000.

In 2016 more people died than were born in Finland. According to one calculation, if the trend continues at the current pace, the last baby will be born in Finland in 2067.

What needs to be done to get people to make more babies?

Iltalehti asked a panel of experts in different fields for their advice, and published a list of five points on Monday.

1. Improve the economy. Better employment prospects and more export income could boost birthrates.

2. Flexible working hours. More flexibility in working hours and improved gender equality might lead to more babies.

3. More financial support for students. Tight finances mean that students take longer to finish degrees and put off starting a family.

4. Better distribution of educational institutions. Women tend to study in larger cities and men in smaller towns. One opinion cited is that if colleges and universities were better distributed among large and small cities, there would be a better chance of men and women finding partners.

5. Immigration. More immigration could ease both the problem of an aging population and low birth rates. However, immigrants would have to be provided better employment prospects.

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