OTE, Forthnet, Copelouzos also eyeing retail electricity market

A growing number of companies are planning to enter Greece’s retail electricity market, currently being opened up to competition by the country’s bailout-linked obligation of reducing main power utility PPC’s virtually monopolistic market share to 50 percent by 2020.

As part of the effort to break the utility’s dominance, from the production stage to the retail market, upcoming NOME-type auctions will offer wholesalers access to PPC’s low-cost lignite-fired electricity production.

According to energypress sources, besides ELTA (Hellenic Post), which announced last week its intention to enter Greece’s retail electricity market, the telecommunications companies OTE and Forthnet, as well as the Copelouzos Group, whose various activities include energy, are either considering or planning to enter this market.

OTE, already represented by a vast retail network through its Germanos mobile technology outlets around the country, is currently engaged in negotiations with at least two existing electricity wholesalers for a strategic partnership. OTE has already made a successful first step into the energy market by offering customers energy management services through mediums such as tablets and mobile phones.

The involvement of telecommunication companies in electricity and natural gas supply markets, for favorable all-encompassing package deals, is now an established trend in European markets.

Forthnet, whose previous attempt at entering the energy market through a supply deal with Hellas Power had ended following the latter company’s debacle, is now making a renewed effort. Forthnet faces considerable financial issues in its main line of telecommunications-and-TV business activity and, as a result, is seeking to ways to bolster its standing.

Officials at the Copelouzos Group, sensing firm business prospects through combined telephony-TV-electricity services, have not refrained from expressing the company’s interest in entering the retail electricity market. The Copelouzos Group is determined to establish itself in Greece’s retail electricity market despite the demise of a recent agreement reached with PPC for the co-development of a retail network throughout Greece.

ELTA announced just days ago it is planning to submit an application to sector authorities for a electricity supply permit in November with the aim of entering the market by December. However, market authorities have described this plan’s schedule as overambitious. At present, the company lacks energy market knowhow to enter the electricity market alone, but its existing retail network is extensive throughout the country.

Latest data for Greece’s electricity market showed that 5.7 percent of consumers had switched from PPC to other electricity companies by the end of September, with PPC controlling 94.3 percent. Heron captured 1.9 percent, Elpedison’s share measured 1.6 percent, and Protergia held 1.2 percent. Four other smaller suppliers – Green, Voltera, Watt + Volt, and NRG – shared one percent of the pie.

All these alternative suppliers are forecast to have captured a combined market share of roughly 7 percent by the end of this year.