|New electricity for an abandoned village|
is an abandoned village, its last inhabitants leaving in the middle of the
20th century. Its inhabitants fell, with practically no-one being born there
and others leaving for other places. Living conditions were difficult, as
the area did not lend itself to agriculture, and families were beginning
to look for “luxury”: running water, electricity, etc. Perillos
became a victim of modern times.
The old village did have a small village, a post office, a mayor, but no electricity. The latter’s absence must have been a major contributor in its rapid decline, as other villages in the neighbourhood, such as Opoul, Vingrau, etc. were connected. The more electricity became a necessity, the quicker the fate of Perillos was sealed – it seemed no-one tried to reverse fortune; those who could bring electricity to the village, were apparently not willing to put Perillos on the grid.
Since its desertion in the middle of the 20th century, Perillos has remained forgotten. But recently, French administration has finally set its sight on Perillos. First, a weather station was implanted on top of a hill overlooking the valley. This might seem unremarkable, but it is nevertheless amazing: the area is under radar control based at the old NATO base, which was equipped with all kinds of technology, including meteorological ones. Though NATO is no longer active in the area, the base on the plateau La Clape (near Narbonne-Plage) was not dismantled. The various domes are still visible from the road; the meteorological equipment is still operational and functional, though it is no longer reporting into NATO, but into the French military forces. Just to the South, Perpignan airport has its own meteorological equipment. It is therefore remarkable that in between these two stations, a third was inserted, in Perillos. The station is visible from Perpignan, showing how close they are to each other; showing there is really no need for the Perillos weather station.
It is clear that the installation of a radar station requires power – electricity. Anyone can see that very close to the installation, a high voltage cable runs. But for some reason, this line was not deemed suitable to provide power to the installation. No doubt there must have been good reasons for this. Either way, the outcome was that a new line had to be created, bringing power to the new installation. As a result, an underground cable was installed, following the road towards Perillos. Just before entering the old village, the access route to the “radar site” diverges, as does the power line. Where it diverges, a transformer is located, making sure that electricity is supplied correctly. This transformer, as any other transformer supplied by EDF (French electricity company), is identified by a name and a number. Normally, the name corresponds with the name of the area it is supplying power to. But this transformer is named “Aramis”. Aramis is a character in the novels of Alexandre Dumas, one of the musketeers. Why EDF has chosen a mythical character for the site here, is unknown. The name is definitely not logical. Let us note that the system seems to be equipped with a remote control, to exchange information with the system.
Another electrical surprise stands at the entrance of Perillos itself: a second transformer. This one is named Perillos, which corresponds with what EDF normally do. The transformer has the capacity to supply power to a village or a small industrial zone. This in itself is not remarkable. But what is remarkable, is that this transformer generates a noise, like all of its fellow transformers elsewhere in France. What sets this transformer apart, though, is that no-one is using its electricity – which makes you wonder why it is working. Indeed, apparently no-one is using electricity, but the evidence suggests someone or something is, for the transformer is operational.
The first question to ask is obviously why there is such a transformer in an abandoned village? It is true that during the summer months, for a period of three months, a small shop is run, opposite the church, offering drinks and selling information and showing artwork.
Amongst the ruined village are two points, placed at the foot of the church. One seems to be for the seasonal shop, which did very well without any such power and which still used a generator at a time when power was already present. The shop did not ask for this access, but it seems that without anyone asking, EDF nevertheless provided it. Tremendous generosity, it would seem. Lest anyone would think it is generosity, let us note that individual or small groups of houses that are far less removed from the grid, have never received such generosity from EDF. Let us note that EDF did not do it because they had provided electricity to everyone else in France and now decided to give it to uninhabited villages. Not at all…
made enquiries with EDF, who told us that the installation was there to
provide power to a building that would shield walkers and horse riders.
This could explain the generosity of EDF: it would be to provide electricity
for a new development, an overnight pasture and “gite” for tourists.
But: such a small building would not require such a powerful transformer;
it could merely take its electricity from “Aramis”, rather than
require “Perillos” as well.
Though this might explain its installation, it does not explain its operation. In winter months, there is nothing alive in the village, nothing requiring electricity. Nevertheless, the transformer is working, providing power to “somewhere”. What? No-one seems to know.
wondered whether there was another reason why electricity might have been
brought to the village. Were there plans that some houses would be redeveloped?
Would Perillos once again become inhabited? The short answer was “no”.
The area is officially classified as “uninhabitable” and “not
suited for developments”. There are sound reasons for this: there
are rules which state that such developments need to be secured with potable
water, waste systems, accessible to emergency services, etc. Furthermore,
there would be administrative difficulties in reopening the site, such as
postal deliveries, etc. Upgrading the access road to Perillos alone would
be a major undertaking – the road from Perillos to Opoul is no less
than 7 km long.
But this information makes the actions of EDF even more bizarre: how is that EDF was able to get authorisation to perform their installation? Furthermore, how would the “gite” ever get their authorisation? If they ever thought it might be possible, then it seems someone was working with two different standards: one for EDF, one for everyone else. But an even more important question is how EDF ever could have lived under the idea that the village as a whole would become inhabitable again, and thus installed the transformer. Someone seems to be fibbing, or someone within EDF used the system to push through the installation of the transformer for a reason even EDF might not be aware of.
During a guide tour of Perillos, one member of the tour identified herself as an employee of EDF. She said she would make enquiries, which she did. She then informed us that the proper departments had told her that any details on the Perillos transformer could not be given, as they were confidential in nature. The next question to ask is therefore what could possibly be confidential about a transformer in a ruined village!
is obvious that such an installation would not be done for nothing, and
it is clear that something is using power. That “something”
seems to be confidential in nature – a state secret therefore. But
for what? Why? Those questions cannot be answered. If only the transformer
could tell us where its power was going to…