Ministry, PPC, fearing changes, want fast lignite sale relaunch

The energy ministry and state-controlled PPC are keen to relaunch the power utility’s failed bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units as soon as possible hoping this swiftness will prevent demands for major changes to the overall offering, the worst fear being the inclusion of hydropower units into an upgraded sale package.

The energy ministry is expected to forward, early today, an update to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition informing of the lignite unit sale package’s failure to produce a result last week, when the deadline for binding bids expired. Brussels should offer its initial response just as swiftly, possibly within the day, it is anticipated. Decisions are not expected at this stage. Instead, Brussels, as a first step, will seek to identify the causes of the sale’s debacle.

The DG Comp terms for PPC’s sale of lignite units, ratified as law, stipulate that the scope of action is currently restricted to lignite, the aim being to reduce imbalances between PPC and its competitors caused by the power utility’s exclusive access to the country’s lignite resources, which it utilizes for electricity production. Hydropower units are not mentioned in the existing sale terms. This explains the eagerness of PPC and the energy ministry to push ahead with a renewed sale attempt.

PPC has declared it will be ready for a sale relaunch by May. Earlier reports claiming fast-track procedures would lead to a March relaunch have remained unconfirmed.