As you approach the northern Greek city of Kozani, which stands on a plateau surrounded by mountains, you start to see smoke—thick white clouds floating above the knotty shrubs and sun-dappled hills of Western Macedonia. This is the heart of Greece’s coal industry; the plumes come from the chimneys of power stations dotted around the region.
When most Greeks think of Kozani, they think of coal. In the 1950s, the Public Power Corp. (PPC), now Greece’s biggest electric company, took over the mines here and brought prosperity to this poor, largely agricultural corner of northern Greece. Locals soon abandoned their traditional ways of making a living: saffron cultivation, marble production and fur-making. Mining was not easy, but the workers were well-compensated. The city’s businesses flourished. Continue reading