HEDNO deputy plays down electricity theft impact on PPC

The number of electricity theft cases in Greece has definitely increased, partially due to a greater number of inspections being carried out by HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, but a level claimed by the main power utility PPC is overestimated, the operator’s deputy chief Yiannis Margaris has told energypress. The utility’s cash flow problem cannot be attributed to electricity theft, he pointed out.

HEDNO data, the only exisiting official figures available on the issue, indicate that the grid’s overall electricity loss in 2014 and 2015 – reported to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in 2016 – reached 8.5 percent, 5.3 percent of this prompted by technical problems, the other 3.2 percent by non-technical issues, or electricity theft.

PPC claims its overall electricity loss amounts to 10.5 percent of all electricity used. The utility attributes 5.5 percent of the loss to technical issues and the other 5 percent to electricity theft.

“Electricity theft is a serious issue for which the operator is making a greater effort to combat, but its impact cannot be instrumental to the major cash flow problems encountered by PPC,” contended Margaris. He estimated the annual cost of electricity theft for PPC at between 70 and 80 million euros – maximum.

The HEDNO deputy warned that the overall impression being created of a local electricity market in disarray is not only inaccurate but ultimately dangerous amid the bailout negotiations and their growing pressure for various sector privatizations. He also openly questioned whether the “leaks of inaccurate information are serving particular interests.”

HEDNO, whose tasks include an operator role for the non-interconnected islands, is a subsidiary firm of PPC, the still-dominant utility facing growing bailout-related pressure to downsize.

“If dialogue is needed, it should be carried out wherever needed, but based on solid proof and seriousness,” Margaris pointed out.

According to HEDNO data, the operator has discovered roughly 50,000 cases of electricity theft from 2008 until now. In 2016, the number of incidents identified by the operator reached 10,636, up from 8,409 in the previous year.