DG Comp updates on PPC staff, mine licenses, facility sharing

Issues concerning main power utilty PPC lignite unit personnel, mining licenses, the inclusion of  the Vevi mine to the utility’s bailout-required sale package, as well as the ability of PPC and prospective buyers to share facilities associated with units being placed for sale dominated teleconference talks yesterday between energy ministry officials and the European Directorate for Competition.

The session was essentially held so that DG Comp officials could further update the energy ministry on comments provided by prospective investors during December’s market test. It was staged by the Brussels authority to enable investor feedback ahead of the PPC lignite units sale. A brief update had been delivered to the Greek ministry last week.

No surprise developments, or, more specifically, any demands concerning the inclusion of PPC hydropower faclities to the sale package, emerged during yesterday’s session, energypress sources informed. However, in their market test responses, certain participants did note that the package would represent a more enticing prospect if it were more balanced.

In their market test responses, participants are believed to have expressed concerns over mine licenses. Some licences are due to expire between 2019 and 2022. PPC faces lignite supply issues at its Meliti power plant in the Florina area, northern Greece, because neighboring mines, including Vevi, remain closed.

Energy ministry officials assured the DG Comp that PPC would take all needed action to settle mine license issues. The Vevi mine will also be included in the sale package, the energy ministry officials assured.

Teleconference participants agreed that prospective buyers and PPC will be able to share facilities supporting the Megalopoli III and IV power plants included in the package. These include a waste treatment plant serving these two units as well as Megalopoli V, a natural gas-fueled power plant not included in the sale package. Contracts are expected to be signed setting prices for the access to facilities to be provided by PPC.

The DG Comp officials also raised questions over the 1,100 employees currently stationed at Megalopoli III and IV, associated lignite mines, as well as Megalopoli V. A proportion of the personnel at these facilities, some of which are believed to be overstaffed, could be transferred by PPC to other units. The DG Comp wants to ensure qualified personnel remains at the Megalopoli units up for sale. The Brussels authority also called for no more personnel additions to these units.

All these issues will be incorporated into a PPC draft bill being prepared by the energy ministry. Greek officials will need to deliver a final commitment to the DG Comp before the PPC bill is ratified in Greek parliament, expected next month. The launch of the sale’s tender is being planned for early summer.

The PPC lignite units sale has been divided into two packages, a northern package including Meliti I and a license for Meliti II, as well as a southern package including Megalopoli III and IV. The PPC draft bill will offer a description of the sale procedure, permitted buying combinations, a date for the tender, probably in June, and plans concerning employment, facility and license issues.