Private management of new IPTO firm has ‘nothing to offer’

A private-management plan demanded by the country’s lenders for a possible new IPTO (power grid operator) company that would take on the exisiting operator’s fixed assets has nothing to offer, energy minister Panos Skourletis has told local press.

Skourletis, in an interview with Sunday newspaper Kontranews, contended that a previous plan seeking to privatize IPTO has been avoided and that the operator will remain state controlled. Skourletis added that networks in most fellow European countries are state-run and managed by the public sector.

Greek officials and the country’s lenders appear to have reached a standoff on IPTO’s management. The lenders have accepted a Greek proposal for the establishment of a new company to take on IPTO’s fixed assets but are demanding that its management be assumed by a private-sector company, which would enter the deal as a strategic investor, regardless of the stake it will hold in the new company. Based on the plan, the Greek state will hold a stake of at least 51 percent in the new company.

“We know very well, for example, what the investment needs are for Crete’s interconnection [with the mainland], or the country’s interconnection with neighboring countries. IPTO is already carrying out a major investment program funded by the European Investment Bank,” Skourletis noted. “I’m mentioning all this as proof that private-sector management at IPTO will have nothing to offer,” he added.

Commenting on the government’s progress of negotiations for the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) project, the energy minister noted the Syriza coalition took on an agreement containing specific conditions and a legal framework established by the country’s previous administration.

“We certainly would have gone about establishing a different type of contract, but, even so, have managed to double TAP’s corporate social responsibility funds for municipalities to be crossed by the pipeline,” Skourletis remarked. “We also succeeded in ensuring compensation payments from the TAP consortium for the use of public land and forest areas, which was not included in the original agreement.”

Skourletis noted the major benefits will come from contracts to be offered to Greek companies for construction of a large part of the pipeline and the jobs this stands to create.