RES producers excluded from Cretan major-scale link’s SPV

Certified network operators, primarily, and possibly financial institutions, will be entitled to take on minority roles in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to soon be established by Greece’s power grid operator IPTO for the development of Crete’s urgently needed major-scale electricity grid interconnection with Athens.

Companies with existing electricity production roles will not be able to participate in the SPV, whose 10 percent will be offered through a tender. This essentially means holders of licenses of major wind energy projects on Crete will not be able to join the SPV.

The Euroasia Interconnector consortium, responsible for the wider Euroasia Interconnector, a PCI-status project planned to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power grids via Crete, will be offered priority rights for a 39 percent minority stake. If this consortium does not exercise this priority right for all or any of the 39 percent it is entitled to, then any leftover portion will be added to the 10 percent stake to be offered to certified network operators and, perhaps, financial institutions.

IPTO is rushing to form the SPV in an effort to counter to Crete’s looming energy sufficiency threat as of 2020 because an exemption to EU law concerning power station emission limits for local high-polluting units, such as those operating on Crete, ends in December, 2019. A number of power stations on the island will need to be withdrawn.

IPTO and Euroasia Interconnector, a consortium of Cypriot interests, have been involved in an extended dispute for control of the wider project’s Cretan segment.

The SPV will initially stand as a wholly-owned IPTO subsidiary and, three months later, by the end of the year, a tender will be staged inviting investor-operators to bid for a minority stake in the venture.

Belgian network operator Elia and France’s RTE have both expressed interest in the major-scale Cretan interconnection project. It remains unclear if they will seek to join the Euroasia Interconnector consortium for part of the SPV’s 39 percent stake or focus on the 10 percent stake.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, awarded IPTO the task of swiftly establishing a special purpose vehicle, and its majority 51 percent stake, this week in a decision that runs against a European Commission initiative that gave the Euroasia Interconnector consortium until the end of the year to resolve its dispute with IPTO. The European Commission has yet to offer an official response.

It is not yet clear if the issue will be added to the agenda for upcoming talks between the government and post-bailout inspectors.