PPC partnerships with private sector no sooner than 2017

Energy minister Panos Skourletis’s plan to lead the main power utility PPC into partnerships with private-sector investors – with the aim of reducing the utility’s electricity market dominance to avoid part-privatization – is still at a preliminary stage and requires plenty of work before it can be actualized, sector officials closely following the developments have informed.

The minister, in an effort to convince Genop, PPC’s main workers union, that the threat of privatizing utility units has been averted, is painting a brighter-than-real picture of negotiations between PPC and Elpedison for a prospective partnership, claiming they are at an advanced stage.

The reality, however, is believed to be quite the contrary. Sources said the minister’s presentation of the talks is exaggerated. Some discussion with PPC officials concerning the possible inclusion of hydropower stations belonging to the utility into the package for a first of a number of anticipated partnerships has taken place, but other than that, all is still at a preliminary stage, the sources informed.

Any talk of a finalized road map for the PPC partnerships plan, as was declared this week, is premature, the sources noted. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition has yet to receive an official application as an agreement has yet to be reached by PPC with Edison, ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), and Ellaktor, a trio already active in Greece’s electricity market as Elpedison.

The energy ministry may be keen to swiftly push ahead the partnerships strategy but PPC is moving at a far slower pace. At this stage, talks are still focused on whether PPC may agree to include hydropower stations into the package.

At best, a clearer picture on a first partnership between PPC and private investors will begin emerging around autumn. Most likely, though, developments will not begin to truly roll until 2017, which is too far ahead to assume Skourletis will still be at the helm of the energy ministry.

The only silver lining at this stage is that Genop appears to have been convinced that PPC partnerships with private-sector investors constitute the least evil of available options.