PPC, State blamed for power market’s competition rut

Independent electricity producer and supplier representatives participating in yesterday’s Power & Gas Supply Forum in Athens have attributed the lack of progress in an ongoing effort to fully liberalize Greece’s electricity market to a lack of political will and a variety of decisions that have helped the state-controlled main power utility PPC maintain its dominant market position.

“Neither the State nor PPC want the market to be opened up,” Dinos Benroubi, the Mytilineos group’s energy division chief, one of many highly-ranked officials representing independent electricity producers and suppliers at yesterday’s event, told the forum.

His comments sum up complaints expressed by various officials who sought to explain why the domestic electricity market has been unable to truly open up to competition, despite years of related legislative amendments and private-sector investments in the energy domain.

PPC has continued to maintain a culture of tolerance that has enabled customers to avoid repercussions for not paying bills on time, which, by extension, has stopped PPC from servicing its required payments to the market, Benroubi pointed out.

“Competitors can’t attract new customers amid market conditions such as these,” the Mytilineos group official supported.

Remarks offered by the Heron energy company’s Giorgos Kouvaris were just as scathing. “Our market is appropriately designed to not be able to open up under any government. Any investors who have moved against the market [forces] have suffered bad outcomes,” Kouvaris noted.

Unfair burdens persevered by electricity producers as a result of various market distortions; an inconsistent regulatory framework affecting investments; lack of competition in electricity production; and the failure of PPC’s pricing policy to reflect costs, were among other factors cited by forum participants as problems obstructing the market from opening up.