IPTO’s state control threatens investment plan, worker rights

The imminent status shift of IPTO, the power grid operator, from a main power utility PPC subsidiary firm to an enterprise under direct Greek State control, will inject uncertainty into the operator’s investment plan and various worker rights.

The change stands to be made official next week, when the sale of a 24 percent stake of IPTO to SGCC, the State Grid Corporation of China, through its subsidiary firm State Grid International Development, is expected to be endorsed at a scheduled PPC shareholders meeting.

IPTO’s ambitious investment plan is estimated to be worth around 5 million to 6 million euros. It includes projects of pivotal national importance, especially the Crete interconnection, its extension covering the Dodecanese islands, and on an international scale, an interconnection project planned to link Greece’s grid with the systems in Cyprus and Israel.

These interconnection projects are directly linked to an objective entailing a drastic reduction of the Public Service Compensation (YKO) surcharge included on electricity bills to cover costs such as Crete’s aging and inefficient mazut and diesel-fueled stations used to generate electricity. The overall cost of electricity would be lowered.

Development of the interconnection projects also promises to utilize the rich renewable energy (RES) potential of areas such as Crete and the Dodecanese islands while also providing energy stability and security for these leading Greek tourism destinations.

IPTO’s investment plan has faced challenges even under the control of PPC, which, up until a few years ago, did not face serious borrowing restrictions in domestic and international money markets. More recently, the utility’s current cash flow problem has seriously affected its borrowing ability. Of course, interconnection projects such as the Cretan plan would easily attract capital from institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), while the establishment of partnerships with private-sector firms is another option.

IPTO’s move away from PPC to Greek State control also threatens various employee benefits such as bonus payments.