Bailout terms for PPC rule out Ptolemaida 3 station’s return

A government plan to restore and relaunch main power utility PPC’s old and damaged Ptolemaida 3 power station in Ptolemaida, northern Greece, has been rejected by the corporation’s board as a result of a term in the country’s latest bailout agreement demanding that PPC’s market share in the electricity market fall below 50 percent by 2020.

The power station, launched 50 years ago, suffered damages in a fire last November that completely devastated an adjacent station, Ptolemaida 4.

Last March, a couple of months after Greece’s snap elections brought leftist Syriza into power, the recently replaced Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis declared Ptolemaida 3 would be restored, without having first consulted the PPC board.

However, the latest developments brought about by the new bailout agreement, whose terms include a demand for PPC to surrender its monopoly in Greece’s electricity market, effectively eliminate any plans for the restoration of Ptolemaida 3. It had been launched in 1965, just after Ptolemaida 1 and Ptolemaida 2, which are both now defunct.

Even when still operating prior to last November’s fire, Ptolemaida 3 was a low-efficiency power station that required large amounts of lignite to produce. Consequently, PPC had limited its dependence on Ptolemaida 3 and planned to eventually withdraw the power station from operation in 2016. Even when operating along with Ptolemaida 4 to benefit from economies of scale, Ptolemaida 3 remained a high-cost unit, running at over 52 euros per MWh.

Apart from its decision to not invest in Ptolemaida 3, the PPC board is currently making an effort for construction work on a new power station, Ptolemaida 5, to begin in September. This plan, however, heavily relies on whether Greece’s banking system manages to return to normality following the impact of capital controls. If the overall uncertainty is sustained, work on  Ptolemaida 5 may once again be postponed.