Brussels team raids PPC, IPTO offices after abuse complaint

A team of some twenty European Directorate for Competition officials raided the main power utility PPC’s Athens headquarters as well as those of the utility’s subsidiary IPTO , the power grid operator, at midday yesterday following a complaint by an undisclosed source over the utility’s ongoing abuse of its dominant market position, especially during the recent energy crisis.

The Brussels squad entered the PPC and IPTO headquarters concurrently without any prior notice in order to collect data concerning the utility’s shaping of wholesale electricity prices – the System Marginal Price (SMP) – the impact on these price levels by PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and hydropower units, and PPC’s decision-making criteria when choosing to connect these units to the grid.

No further information has been given on the data gathered during the raids at the PPC and IPTO buildings. The inspection could be extended by a few days.

The complaint made to the Brussels authority by the undisclosed source condemned PPC for manipulating the SMP level during the energy crisis.

Highlighting its determination to act, the Brussels squad did not let yesterday’s board meeting at PPC foil its intention to raid the utility headquarters.

The timing of the Brussels team’s raids coincides with new pressure being applied by the country’s lenders on the Greek government to sell a 17 percent stake of PPC that is controlled by the Greek State. The raids also coincide with the revival of a conflict in the local market about electricity prices and cost. Just days ago, PPC’s chief executive, Manolis Panagiotakis, criticized rival independent electricity suppliers for manipulating prices during the recent energy crisis. He had also condemned the independent suppliers last November, in Brussels, contending they had deliberately subdued price levels at the inaugural NOME auction, staged in late October.