Older ‘Little PPC’ job security plan adopted for utility’s latest sale effort

The country’s lenders and Greek government officials, negotiating the final details of a bailout-required sale package of main power utility PPC lignite units, appear to have resorted to an older job security agreement linked to an unexecuted PPC sale plan that was expected to offer 17 percent of the utility.

This older labor condition would have obligated buyers to maintain all jobs at all PPC units sold through what was dubbed the “Little PPC” sale for at least five years.

Even if all goes according to plan with the latest PPC sale plan – offering investors units, mines and a lignite-fired unit construction permit representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity – facilities sold will not be transferred to their new owners any time before late 2018, meaning that work positions at these utility disinvestments will be guaranteed until 2023.

The operating lifespan of PPC’s Megalopoli lignite-fired power station, a major employment headache for the government, expires just one year later, in 2024. Some 1,100 persons are employed at Megalopoli, believed to be heavily overstaffed.

In other words, an agreement between the government and lenders offering five-year gurantees for jobs at all units sold more or less wipes out any job future insecurity surrounding the Megalopoli facility.

Government officials have indicated all energy-sector issues, negotiated as part of the bailout’s third review, have been finalized. An agreement is expected to be signed today between energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and the lender representatives.

It remains to be seen if the agreement will specify alternative measures, including the addition of PPC hydropower facilities to the sale package, should an upcoming market test fail to draw sufficient investor interest for the power utility’s lignite units.

Other pending issues that had not been listed as prior actions, such as NOME revisions, will be examined once the third review has been completed, sources informed.

NOME auctions were introduced just over a year ago to offer independent suppliers access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources.

A Greek request calling for the exclusion of high-voltage electricity consumption from the calculation of PPC’s overall supply, a factor that increases electricity amounts the power utility must offer through the NOME auctions, has reportedly been rejected.

However, it appears some leniency will be offered to Greece on the time schedule concerning the establishment of an energy exchange.