Ministry seeking counter plan to PPC part-privatization

Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ministry officials are seeking a solution that would meet European Comission demands for the electricity market’s liberalization following the newly elected leftist Syriza-led government’s intention to halt the previous administration’s part-privatization procedures for PPC, the Public Power Corporation.

Ministry officials are concerned that cancellation of the part-privatization of “Little PPC”, as the process has been locally dubbed, could possibly revive a legal challenge – at a European Commission and European Court level – against PPC for monopolizing lignite sources.  PPC dominates the electricity market with a 98 percent share.

Last summer, the European Court had delivered charges against PPC for maintaining exclusive access to the country’s lignite sources, which is why the PPC part-privatization process had been put into motion as a means of opening up the market.

Officials at the ministry are well aware of the fact that the liberalization of the electricity market does not constitute part of the bail-out agreement but, instead, is based on EU law, meaning that they will, sooner or later, be confronted by the issue.

A return to an older proposal extended in 2009 by the European Commission to that period’s PASOK government, entailing making available unutilized lignite deposits in Drama, northern Greece, and Elassona, mid-northern Greece, to private-sector companies, is not out of the question. At the time, this idea had been sidelined amid wider plans for eco-friendly development, and also as a result of strong opposition voiced by local communities.

According to sources, Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis has tabled the possibility of such a solution at ministry meetings. However, no decisions have been reached. At this stage, it remains unknown how the  local communities in Drama and Elassona may react to a renewed attempt, nor is it known whether such a plan could attract investor interest.