Gas market bill rids IPTO of surcharge collections

Privatization-headed IPTO, the Independent Power Transmission Operator, will be rid of the responsibility of collecting an Emission Reduction Tariff (ETMEAR) as well as other surcharges imposed on electricity bills, essentially protecting it from accumulating bad debts in the future, according to a provision attached to an imminent gas market reforms bill. The surcharge collection role will be assumed by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator.

The draft bill, intended to liberalize the local gas market, was expected to be submitted to Parliament for ratification within the current week, but it now appears likely to be tabled next Monday or Tuesday.

Candidates for the acquisition of a 66 percent equity share in IPTO had pushed for protective measures from any future surcharge-related bad debts from the early stages of an international tender launched for the sale.

An increased level of unpaid overdue electricity bills owed to PPC, the Public Power Corporation, through which the surcharges are collected, has led to wider complications in the electricity market. Once received, surcharge fees are transferred to LAGIE, which relies on them to pay renewable energy source (RES) producers. ETMEAR-related bad debt is running at a rate of about 80 million euros per month.

Besides the revision to surcharge collection procedures, the gas market reforms bill will also include a 20-year extension of operating permits for the country’s gas supply companies (EPA) operating in the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki, and Thessalia, in the country’s mid-northeast, in exchange for loss of regional monopolies.

Also, a gas distribution tariff, originally set at four euros per megawatt hour – at the public consultation stage – will be revised to 1.2 euro per MWh for a selected list of large-scale industrial operations, from the present level of 0.75 cents (euro). All other industrial units, to be placed on the lower-cost tariff list in the future, will be temporarily charged 3.5 MWh for the distribution tariff.

The bill also includes provisions facilitating independent household gas heating conversions, and net metering revisions. Net metering enables electricity consumers who generate their own power from an eligible on-site facility and deliver it to local distribution facilities to offset the electric energy provided by the utility during an applicable billing period.