The Environment and Energy Ministry’s adjustment program for Greece’s energy sector promises to include significant revisions to the RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge included on electricity bills and how this charge will be distributed among various consumer categories.
The Greek government has faced persistent pressure from the Directorate General for Competition to justify how the surcharge is currently distributed. However, besides the EU pressure, the anticipated ETMEAR revisions will also be made as a result of changes needed for the country’s RES-sector support mechanism and the positive impact this could have on the RES special account, currently in deficit territory.
The adjustment program being shaped at present by the energy ministry, viewing the effort as a wider form of intervention, aims to utilize the potential offered by EU guidelines for the protection of energy-intensive industry as well as consumers and sectors of the economy requiring support.
The primary objective of the EU directives, issued in April, 2014, is to produce measures that will bolster the level of competitiveness of Europe’s energy-intensive industry and also help offset the weakening effects – on industry – caused by climate change policies.
The EU guidelines include setting an upper limit for RES-supporting surcharges to be paid by enterprises regarded as electro-intensive. This upper limit is specified as 0.5 percent of each enterprise’s economic value added if the enterprise’s electricity costs exceed 20 percent of its total expenses. A RES-supporting surcharge upper limit of 4 percent of an enterprise’s economic value added has been specifed for enterprises whose electricity costs represent more than 10 percent of total expenses.
Adopting these upper limits will benefit the major electro-intensive industrial enterprises active in sectors such as metal, steel and cement, as well as numerous medium-voltage enterprises.
Another advantage of this measure is that its implementation will not automatically apply to all major enterprises, but only those that are truly energy-intensive, allowing for a finer-tuned industrial policy.
Of course, the energy ministry faces the tricky task of implementing these EU guidelines to benefit energy-intensive enterprises without raising the ETMEAR surcharge for other consumer categories, or, more specifically, those whose ETMEAR level is below the weighted average price. Major medium-voltage consumers such as hotels, retail chains, and banks, as well as low-intensity industrial enterprises and farmers, all belong to this category.
According to energypress sources, the energy ministry will seek to achieve an appropriately balanced plan that will maintain the beneficial treatment offered to the major medium-voltage consumers at present. “The agricultural sector, railways, mines, hospitals, and universities are all national industries, in a sense, and need to be protected,” an energy sector authority told energypress, offering a rough idea as to how the ETMEAR surcharge’s distribution will be shaped.