SGCC officials assume posts at IPTO Athens headquarters

Officials of SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China), which has acquired a 24 percent stake in IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, arrived at the operator’s Athens headquarters yesterday to take up their posts in a new era for the operator that ushers in the Chinese firm as a dynamic strategic partner.

Based on the new shareholders’ agreement, SGCC has a three-seat representation on IPTO’s new nine-member board.

Besides yesterday’s arrival of SGCC executives, an additional twenty or so staff members representing IPTO’s new strategic partner, including secretaries, translators and other associates, are also in the process of assuming posts at the operator’s Athens headquarters.

Details that need to be sorted out include payroll arrangements and whether the SGCC officials stationed at IPTO will be subject to a bailout-related salary limit imposed on Greek state utilities.

All operational costs at IPTO, including salaries, are raised through regulated charges and need to be approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. Besides RES’s required approval, current regulations also limit state utility salaries to 65 percent of the total respective salary expenses registered in 2009. If these limits are exceeded as a result of the Chinese team’s entry, a prospect that cannot be ruled out, then IPTO staff members may need to accept slight pay cuts.

Now backed by a new strategic partner possessing a minority stake but enormous capabilities, IPTO will strive to establish itself as a key player in Greece’s energy market, functioning independently, beyond the grasp of its former parent company PPC, the main power utility.

Network investment and development plans are already being discussed, especially new interconnection projects, including the Crete submarine link with the mainland, a top priority.