DG Comp wants PPC’s 40% lignite reduction prior to 2020

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition wants the main power utility PPC to reduce its lignite-sector capacity by 40 percent sooner than 2020, sources have informed, adding that a Greek proposal delivered to Brussels has set a target beyond 2020-2021 for this reduction.

The DG Comp concerns over the PPC sale package proposal are currently focused on what Brussels views as the need for the utility to reduce its presence in the lignite sector at a faster rate.

PPC’s lignite-based capacity is expected to fluctuate over the next few years as a result of unit withdrawals and additions. The Kardia unit is scheduled to stop operating in 2019 while a new unit, Ptolemaida V is planned to start operating in 2022.

The gap separating Athens and Brussels on the pace at which PPC should reduce its lignite-sector presence could prompt changes in the make-up of the sale package.

Officials in Brussels are examining whether the Greek proposal concerning PPC’s sale package of lignite units meets bailout terms, according to the source, who did not elaborate.

The Greek plan is comprised of PPC’s two Amynteo units (600 MW), an existing Meliti unit (330 MW), a license for the construction of a new facility in Meliti (450 MW), as well as the Amynteo, Lakkia and Vevi mines feeding these units. This proposal represents 36 percent of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and 42 percent of its lignite mines.

The inclusion, on the sale list, of the Amynteo units, scheduled to cease operating in 2020 and requiring an investment of around 100 million euros to keep running for a further 10 to 15 years, is another issue that may contravene the agreement’s terms, Brussels officials believe.