European partner possible for new PPC Meliti power plant, boss says

Main power utility PPC’s strategic objective in the immediate future is to take its lignite-fired electricity production level to 35 percent and also to proceed with a plan to develop a new electricity production unit, Meliti II, the utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis noted while presenting the enterprise’s investment plans at a conference in Kozani, northern Greece, titled “Business Restart”.

Panagiotakis said PPC will seek to develop the project in Meliti, close to Florina in northern Greece, as a joint venture with a European partner to construct the plant and operate it as well as the region’s coal mines in conjunction with PPC. The prospective plant has a budget of 750 million euros.

The prospective European corporate partner to be sought for the Meliti project may also be commissioned to environmentally upgrade a PPC unit in Amyndeo, also close to Florina, the PPC head informed. This project could also be taken on by another foreign partner not linked to the Meliti project, he added. The Amyndeo plant, possessing a capacity of 600 MW, is currently operating at a low capacity and is due for closure in 2021 if it is not revamped.

“We could take on the revamp project ourselves, but, at this stage, would not say no to a partnership with a European firm that would agree to support the utility’s interests in the EU,” Panagiotakis said.

Commenting on a new PPC facility in Ptolemaida, also in the country’s north, the PPC boss said work has begun, adding that a foundation stone laying ceremony would soon be staged. A 200 million-euro payment will be made to the project’s developer by April, as agreed, Panagiotakis noted.

He expressed concern about the competition faced by PPC as a result of considerable amounts of electricity imported from neighboring countries not required to pay for CO2 emission rights, a right gained as a result of their small GDP sizes. Panagiotakis was critical of the EU’s negative stance concerning Greece’s bid for free CO2 emission rights.

He described the rejection by the country’s lenders of a plan proposed by PPC for the future of its subsidiary firm IPTO, the power grid operator, as unjustifiable, but said the decision allowing the operator to remain under state control was a positive development. Panagiotakis contended that certain EU officials are banking on the plan’s ultimate failure, which would lead to IPTO’s full privatization.

PPC’s proper compensation for the breakaway of IPTO is crucial to any agreement reached, he said. Panagiotakis said he wanted to support local entrepreneurship in the wider northern Greek region.