PPC chief presents utility’s key issues to energy commissioner

Main power utility PPC chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis met with the European Commission’s Director General for Energy, Dominique Ristori, and subordinates on Tuesday for a detailed presentation of the main problems faced by the utility and Greece’s energy market, it has been revealed.

During the meeting, Panagiotakis noted PPC has set three fundamental objectives, these being a smooth operating and effective wholesale market, the retail electricity market’s successful transition towards full competition, and reduced prices for consumers.

The PPC head analyzed the role and strategy he believes is required of PPC to ensure these objectives are achieved, including aspects such as adjustability, flexibility, and entrepreneurial partnerships.

Commenting on Greece’s wholesale market, Panagiotakis told the European Commision officials the enormous gap between supply and demand stands as a fundamental problem that cannot be resolved if a new round of market distortions emerges like in the past, which caused electricity price to escalate between 60 and 100 percent. A final solution will stem from the market’s ability to adapt to the target model and a gradual reduction of taxes, supply of free carbon emission rights, as well as the implementation of a new renewable energy sources (RES) policy, the PPC head supported.

While informing Ristori and his colleagues that PPC currently maintains a 94.5 percent share of Greece’s electricity market, Panagiotakis noted that opening up the market to competition can only succeed if prospective entrants invest, take risks, and assume operational costs, otherwise the effort will fail, as was the case in a previous attempt in the not too distant past, the PPC chief noted.

The PPC chief told the meeting he welcomes ELTA’s (Hellenic Post) intention to enter Greece’s electricity market, adding that he expects the corporation’s 1,500 retail outlets around the country to offer services for all consumer categories.

Electricity market measures demanded by the country’s bailout agreement in a bid to create competition must be implemented extremely carefully, otherwise they could create more problems than they promise to resolve, Panagiotakis warned.

Offering his point of view on IPTO, the power grid operator, Panagiotakis said the pre-Syriza coalition, whose term was ended by last January’s snap elections, was interested in privatizing a 66 percent share of the operator for fiscal reasons and not as a step towards creating market competition. The eventual solution needs to place emphasis on facilitating competition, he noted.

Panagiotakis also sought support for Greece’s effort to be granted free carbon emission rights for electricity production, based on the country’s reduced GDP, now down to just over 60 percent of the EU average.