Brussels PPC probe, following market abuse protests, widens

An ongoing investigation of the main power utility PPC and its subsidiary IPTO, the power grid operator, by a team of European Directorate for Competition officials has widened and includes the participation of the Greek competition committee.

The European Directorate for Competition officials raided the headquarters of both corporations yesterday to collect data following a complaint by an undisclosed source over PPC ongoing abuse of its dominant market position.

It is known that the European Directorate for Competition has received numerous complaints, over an extended period, concerning Greece’s electricity market and PPC’s behavior.

The current investigation was probably sparked by an older complaint as some of the data being examined stretches back to 2010. Developments during the recent energy crisis presumably also drew Brussels’ attention and may have pushed the DG Comp to its limits. Moves made by IPTO during the energy crisis were particularly troubling. These included energy leaks from Bulgaria, bad planning and the existence of low prices in the wholesale electricity market despite shortages.

For some time now, the European Directorate for Competition has also received complaints from industrial consumers over PPC’s handling of industrial tariffs.

Issues concerning the investigative team are believed to include whether PPC has systematically overstated the capacity of its lignite-fired power stations as part of an effort to maintain its market control.

Investigators are also said to be looking at whether PPC has been using its hydropower stations to lower the System Marginal Price (SMP), which determines the wholesale price.