Electricity demand falls for fourth consecutive month

Electricity demand in the household and business categories fell for a fourth consecutive month in October, plunging 9.25 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report has shown.

This downward trend highlights the efforts being made by anxious consumers to keep their energy costs down. At this rate, Greece appears to be on target to achieve the country’s energy-saving goals.

Electricity demand had fallen 3.27 percent in September, 13.17 percent in August, and 11.78 percent in July.

In terms of quantity, electricity demand fell to 3,604 GWh last month from 3,971 GWh in October, 2021, according to the IPTO report.

Domestic electricity production also dropped sharply last month, falling 22.94 percent compared to October, 2021, to 3,155 GWh.

Market shares of electricity retailers also changed. Power power PPC’s market share dropped below 60 percent for the first time in months, reaching 56.73 percent, down from 60.81 percent in September.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, gained from PPC’s loss, its market share climbing, for a second consecutive month, to 12.88 percent from 8.77 percent in September.

Heron maintained third place with a 7.31 percent market share, followed by Elpedison (6.50%), NRG (4.66%), Fysiko Aerio (2.32%), Volterra (2.29%), Watt & Volt (1.93%), Zenith (1.87%) and Volton (1.04%).

 

 

ESPEN wants power supply cuts for consumers on the move

ESPEN, the Greek Energy Suppliers Association, wants power supply cuts for consumers with unpaid power bills even if they have moved to a new supplier, citing serious energy-related debt issues caused by consumers shifts from one supplier to another to avoid settlement of unpaid bills.

According to sources, suppliers have experienced soaring unpaid receivables in recent times, consumers taking advantage of flexible market terms enabling shifts from one supplier to another, even with unpaid bills. Under the current rules, suppliers cannot order supply cuts to consumers with arrears.

More than 50 percent of unpaid receivables concerns customers who have switched electricity suppliers, according to market estimates.

Strong PPA demand prompts boost to 1,500-MW capacity

The energy ministry plans to boost a current 1,500-MW capacity made available to RES producers for Power Purchase Agreements with electricity suppliers or major-scale consumers as this capacity has been virtually exhausted due to robust demand. The extent of the capacity increase still remains unknown.

The large number of green investments being planned in Greece, along with medium-term electricity cost projections PPAs can offer electricity suppliers, are factors that have boosted demand for PPAs in recent months.

Demand would have been even higher if industrial consumers were not subject to a uniform ceiling on wholesale market compensation for green units.

Power grid operator IPTO is taking preliminary steps towards establishing a new priority list, expected in roughly one month.

Energy saving compensation for industry, incentives for households, businesses

Industrial enterprise compensation packages, offered through auctions, in exchange for lower energy consumption, and energy-saving incentives for households to be announced at the end of this month, have been included in a Greek plan aiming to achieve a European Commission order for a 5 percent reduction of electricity usage by all EU member states.

It will be up to each EU member state to decide on the details of respective formulas achieving the crisis measure’s objective set by the European Commission.

The Greek plan is greatly relying on industrial players to embrace compensation packages to be offered through auctions.

Reduced energy usage by households and businesses will be optional as, contrary to other EU countries, smart meters, offering immediate online information on energy consumption, have yet to be installed in Greece.

A promotional campaign encouraging households and businesses to use less electricity will be launched at the end of this month, immediately after the energy ministry has announced subsidy-related incentives.

 

Consumer confusion, distrust over supplier tariff offers

Many consumers are feeling confused about electricity tariff comparisons and how to go about determining the best supplier deals available in the market, a considerable number of enquiries expressed by energypress readers has indicated.

The confusion of consumers amid the energy crisis appears to have abounded despite the government’s recently introduced simplified system, through which suppliers announce the forthcoming month’s tariffs on a monthly basis. The net price for consumers results once state electricity subsidies have been subtracted.

Common questions asked by consumers include whether they should be on the constant lookout for lower-priced electricity offers, given the monthly tariff announcements by suppliers, which can fluctuate from month to month.

Consumers are also expressing insecurity as to where they should look for finalized, guaranteed price offers of suppliers, once the government’s subsidies have been deducted.

A price-comparison tool introduced by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for this purpose does not appear to have convinced some consumers, or helped clarify the market picture for them, even though many consumers are aware of the tool’s existence and are using it.

 

 

Retail electricity market pressured by rise in unpaid bills

A rise in the number of overdue electricity bill payments, despite the government’s subsidy support and cash returns, received by consumers through a power pass plan, is increasing the pressure felt by suppliers in the retail electricity market.

According to a study conducted by consumer support group Ekpoizo, 17.6 percent of respondents have faced threats by suppliers for power cuts over the past three months, while 3.1 percent had their electricity cut.

The study showed that 92.3 percent of respondents declared being dissatisfied with the level of cash returns they have received through the government’s power pass plan.

One in two consumers received up to 50 euros through the power pass plan, while just 8.1 percent received a sum of between 301 and 600 euros, according to the Ekpoizo study.

Also, the overwhelming majority of respondents, an 89.9 percent share, want a wholesale price adjustment clause included in electricity bills to be abolished.

A considerable percentage of respondents, 42.7 percent, expressed support for further renewable energy utilization. Just 14.5 percent of respondents considered the government’s electricity subsidies effective.

Consumer switches up 20% in August after end of restrictions

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased by 20 percent in the first 19 days of August, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, following electricity market revisions introduced August 1 lifting all restrictions concerning moves from one supplier to another.

These revisions were incorporated into an energy ministry package suspending a wholesale price adjustment clause and requiring all suppliers to announce their respective price levels for the forthcoming month by the 20th of each preceding month.

The number of consumers who chose to switch electricity suppliers in the first 19 days of August rose to approximately 37,700 from 31,200 a year earlier.

Consumer mobility in July was down 11 percent compared to the same month in 2021, falling from 68,700 to approximately 61,000, a slowdown attributed to consumers putting decisions on hold in anticipation of the revisions.

 

 

 

 

August electricity prices could reach 50 cents per KWh

Electricity suppliers are set to announce their tariff rates this Sunday, price levels expected to reach as high as 50 cents per KWh, which would demand consumer subsidy support worth over one billion euros for the month to keep electricity bill costs serviceable at a cost of approximately 15 cents per KWh for households and 16 to 17 cents per KWh for businesses, the government’s objectives.

According to some estimates, monthly Energy Transition Fund sums needed for the government’s support package could reach closed to 1.5 billion euros.

TTF natural gas contracts for August are at a level of 165 euros per MWh and are not expected to deescalate easily. Energy exchange prices have skyrocketed to levels of between 340 and 370 euros per MWh.

Such price levels are expected to force electricity suppliers to announce retail prices of 50 cents per KWh for August this coming Sunday, exorbitantly high considering June and July levels were at about 35 cents per KWh without subsidies.

 

Suppliers inspected for power bill clause, subsidy errors

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has given electricity retailers until the end of this month to provide detailed data concerning electricity bills issued for all customers between September 1, 2021 and May 31.

The authority has requested this information to check on tariff charges, whether wholesale price adjustment clauses have been applied in accordance with agreements signed between suppliers and customers, and if government subsidies included in bills have been properly calculated.

RAE considers this inspection necessary as a result of consumer suspicions of charging errors against their interests.

Meanwhile, RAE is also conducting hearings on two separate issues involving twelve electricity retailers. The first issue concerns whether suppliers have notified consumers on time for tariff changes. The second issue being examined is whether supplier tariffs and sale programs are transparent.

Consumers switching supplier doubles, universal service up

The number of low-voltage consumers switching electricity supplier doubled in May, compared to a month earlier, despite the energy ministry’s imminent energy-crisis measures to be introduced July 1, suggesting consumers are panic-stricken and lack composure for a wait-and-see approach.

Latest electricity market figures covering May, still unofficial, showed a further rise in the number of households resorting to the universal electricity supply service, covering the needs of black-listed consumers who have been shunned by suppliers over payment failures.

The number of low-voltage consumers who have resorted to this universal electricity supply service, which also rose in April, by 5,000, now exceed a total of 170,000, May’s unofficial data showed.

By law, the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, contribute to the universal supply service. Higher tariffs are charged.

Rising PPA interest expressed by major-scale consumers

Major-scale energy consumers are expressing growing interest in power purchase agreements with RES producers, but supply currently remains subdued.

Banks are playing a key role in this development as they are encouraging customers to establish PPAs by offering low interest rates as an incentive, a new banking offer, as was noted by a sector official at the recent Athens Energy Dialogues conference.

Banks, increasingly acknowledging that PPAs are the way forward, prefer ten-year PPAs, deemed as agreements that protect from dangers and risks, while also being suitable for the Greek market, according to sector officials.

Market players are already seeking professional PPA advice from consulting firms to prepare for their entry into this new territory.

 

Overdue electricity bill sums double over 6-month period

The prolonged energy crisis has led to a sharp rise in overdue electricity bills as consumers struggle to meet exorbitant energy costs, amounts owed now double the level compared to six months ago.

According to sector officials, electricity bills overdue for periods of between 45 and 75 days represent the majority of cases. In this category, the rise in overdue electricity bills is close to 400 percent, clearly indicating that an increasing number of households and businesses are finding it extremely difficult to cover energy costs and meet deadlines.

The category of electricity bills overdue for up to 100 days has also experienced an increase, but it is far milder, suggesting that consumers are making every effort to not exceed this period, driven by the fear of electricity supply cuts.

Also highlighting the increased pressure experienced in the market, the number of electricity consumers resorting to a universal supply service covering the power needs of black-listed customers with poor track records exceeded 167,000 in April, increasing by 19,000 since the start of the year.

Electricity suppliers dread new round of unpaid receivables

A rising wave of overdue electricity bills, highlighted by a sharp rise in the number of applications lodged by consumers for installment-based payments, is generating anxiety in the energy market as consumers face steep energy cost increases and suppliers battle against tightened cashflows while fearing a reemergence of unpaid receivables.

Consumers are now feeling the accumulative effect of an energy crisis that has lasted seven months and deteriorated since Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

Consumer applications for installment-based payments have risen by more than 200 percent since September, 2021, generating fears of a new round of unpaid receivables, which would have a wider impact on the energy market’s stability.

The extent of the problem will become clearer in April when electricity bills are issued for consumption in March, a month during which wholesale electricity prices have skyrocketed to levels of approximately 300 euros per MWh as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages.

Many energy consumers who have so far managed to remain punctual with their payments could struggle to meet risen energy costs, energy company officials have informed energypress.

Prior to the energy crisis, the country’s annual electricity consumption of 55 TWh cost a total of nearly 3 billion euros, based on an average wholesale electricity price of 50 euros per MWh, several times below the current level of roughly 300 euros per MWh. If sustained throughout 2022, this price level would result in a national electricity bill of nearly 14 billion euros for the year.

Independent players set to offer discounts, awaiting PPC clarity

Independent suppliers are set to offer discounts and tariff reductions to consumers, their effort focusing on consumption levels ranging between 300 and 600 kWh, not covered by state subsidies, according to latest updates.

Independent suppliers are awaiting the outcome of a meeting today involving energy minister Kostas Skrekas, during which state-controlled power utility PPC’s discount strategy will be clarified, before they take specific decisions, including for the consumption category of up to 300 kWh, applying to the majority of households.

Besides an across-the-board discount of 30 percent for all consumers, including the category up to 300 kWh, PPC has also promised an additional discount of between 3 and 4 percent for the 301-600 kWh category.

It still remains unclear how much the price gap between PPC and independent consumers offering lower tariff prices could be narrowed by this move.

Independent suppliers know well that they will need to keep offering lower tariffs than PPC, the dominant player, to remain competitive.

The government plans to adopt an Energy Transition Fund to offer electricity subsidies to households and small and medium-sized enterprises, heating fuel subsidies, and a range of other initiatives as a tool to contain the surge in wholesale energy costs, prompted by a combination of factors in international markets.

 

PPC attachment to gov’t power cost measures angers rivals

The country’s independent electricity suppliers have deemed as necessary government support measures just announced to help combat rising wholesale, and by extension retail, electricity prices pushed up by a combination of unfavorable factors in international markets, but, even so, feel betrayed by the manner in which these measures were presented, perceived as an indirect boost for the state-run power utility PPC.

Officials at independent electricity supply companies, in comments to energypress, pointed out that PPC was incorporated into the government’s announcement for support measures, creating an impression that the dominant player’s pricing policy is a part of the government measures for lower-cost electricity. In other words, PPC was made to look as if it is providing social policy on behalf of the government, the independent supply company officials protested.

This ultimately sends out a message promising consumers protection and lower-cost electricity at PPC, marring the image of independent players as relentless, profit-seeking enterprises, the representatives complained.

Such initiatives threaten to confuse consumers and stifle market competition, the representatives added.

 

Government looking to expand eligibility for electricity subsidies

Taking into account the rising energy costs and potential repercussions on society, the government is seeking to make revisions that would make more households eligible for subsidized electricity through the Social Residential Tariff (KOT) program.

The administration is looking to loosen KOT-related income and property criteria for the entry of several hundred thousand more households to the program.

The government also aims to increase the KOT subsidy program’s discount rates for electricity, currently ranging between 45 and 60 percent, depending on income levels, property assets and electricity consumption levels.

Under the current criteria, 450,000 households are eligible for electricity subsidies through the KOT program.

Additional funds are believed to be available to make the subsidies available to a greater number of households, but the finances may not suffice to cover the full extent of the expansion sought by the government.

Suppliers request revisions to alleviate cash-flow pressure

Electricity suppliers, facing steep and lasting wholesale electricity cost increases, which have resulted in cash-flow issues, are seeking revisions that could alleviate the pressure, in recommendations submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Rising wholesale electricity costs have created major cash flow problems for non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers as they are being forced to pay increasing amounts for electricity and related guarantees ahead of payments, to them, by consumers.

Consumers have also felt the pinch as suppliers, seeking protection against the rising wholesale prices, have activated wholesale cost-related clauses incorporated into their supply agreements.

Solutions for both sides seem elusive at present as market forecasts do not see any price de-escalation ahead, only further increases.

In one of the recommendations forwarded to RAE, suppliers called for their cash collateral payments made to the Hellenic Energy Exchange, as a form of guarantee, to be replaced by letters of guarantee representing equivalent amounts.

Suppliers have also requested a reexamination of the clearing price and payment formula in the day-ahead and intraday markets.

They also requested extensions for surcharge payments to power grid operator IPTO and the distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.