IPTO plans Crete link tender for Euroasia’s neglected 39%

Greek power grid operator IPTO has announced it will stage a tender offering investors, especially European operators, a stake in Ariadne Interconnector, an SPV established by the grid operator for the development of a Crete-Athens interconnection.

The move was prompted by the neglection of a pre-emption right, for a 39 percent stake in the SPV, by Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests heading a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli electricity grid interconnection project. Euroasia Interconnector had been set a December 31 deadline to accept the offer for 200 million euros.

IPTO and the Cypriot consortium have been embroiled in a dispute for control of the wider grid interconnection project’s Crete-Athens segment.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which appointed IPTO project promoter of the Crete-Athens link, required to prevent a looming energy shortage threat on Crete, will need to approve IPTO’s plan for a tender before this procedure can go ahead.

Euroasia Interconnector will now need to participate in IPTO’s prospective tender should it ultimately decide to become involved in the development of the Crete-Athens grid interconnection.

IPTO has already begun contacting European energy transmission operators, Manos Manousakis, chief executive at IPTO, informed yesterday. The Greek operator had approached Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE in the past. A new invitation for their participation cannot be ruled out.

Euroasia Interconnector is widely expected to launch a legal challenge.

Earlier this month, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete forwarded a letter to Greek energy minister Giorgos Stathakis informing him that RAE’s decisions have led to delays in the wider PCI project, according to Greek daily Kathimerini.

The commissioner has apparently asked Greece to decide whether the Crete-Athens grid interconnection will be developed as a PCI project, enabling EU funding advantages, or as a national project, which would eliminate the project’s promoter from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument. The repercussions would spill over onto tariffs paid by consumers.