Brussels placing energy crisis hopes on windfall profits tax

The European Commission is placing its hopes on greater revenues to be generated by a windfall profits tax on refineries, wholesale gas companies and electricity producers as a solution to get the EU through the energy crisis.

According to the plan, the EU-27 will use these increased tax collections to subsidize, as widely and as generously as possible, electricity bills of European households and businesses.

Thoughts of imposing a price cap on natural gas from all sources, including Russia, have been abandoned, following objections raised by many EU member states at a recent meeting of EU energy ministers.

The windfall profits tax on oil, gas, coal and refining companies, to be announced today by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, could reach as high as 33 percent, according to Bloomberg. Drafts of this extraordinary tax measure do not include its tax rate.

 

RAE approves energy crisis plans for winter sufficiency

The board at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved preventive action and risk preparedness plans for the country’s electricity sector, two tools shaped in response to soaring gas and electricity prices, breaking records, in the energy crisis.

Though it is generally hoped they will be needless, the two tools could prove useful during what is expected to be a challenging winter throughout Europe, including Greece.

The preventive action plan was approved by RAE following certain revisions to the initial plan, concerning gas reserve requirements.

According to the plan, a new floating storage unit installed in June at the LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, will maintain 0.57 TWH in strategic reserves for electricity production, while 1.14 TWh in gas supplier reserves will be stored at an Italian storage facility.

However, the plan is non-binding as these gas reserves may also be stored at other facilities if preferred by players, who are required to maintain strategic gas reserves.

 

Electricity producers windfall tax now imminent

Joint ministerial decisions needed by the finance and energy ministries for the implementation of a 90 percent windfall tax on recent extraordinary gains achieved by vertically integrated electricity producers are set to be signed by the two ministries, energy minister Kostas Skrekas has told a news conference.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has delivered its report for electricity producer earnings covering a six-month period from October, 2021 to March, 2022, to be subject to the new windfall tax.

As for a second period to be subject to this extraordinary tax, a three-month term covering April to June this year, RAE has requested further details from the energy groups on discounts offered as well as returns linked to bilateral agreements. These details will be delivered to RAE once they have been approved by a certified public accountant.

 

Electricity producer price cap mechanism launched Friday

A price-cap mechanism for electricity producer payments is set to be launched this Friday and is expected to generate approximately 580 million euros for the Energy Transition Fund in July, a sum to be utilized for subsidizing consumer electricity bills.

Of this sum, 150 million euros will be derived from natural gas and lignite-fired power stations as well as power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities, while the other 380 million euros will stem from the RES sector.

Most of July’s funds to be provided by the RES sector will not be newly generated money as RES units had already refunded money to the RES special account and its surpluses were then injected into the Energy Transition Fund. Under the new system, these amounts will be directly injected into the Energy Transition Fund.

Through the new mechanism, PPC’s hydropower facilities will be paid 112 euros per MWh and all RES units will be remunerated at a rate of 85 euros per MWh. The remuneration rates for natural gas and lignite-fueled power stations will be determined every month based on a series of factors. For the mechanism’s first month, natural gas-fueled power stations will receive 253.99 euros per MWh for their output and lignite-fired power stations will receive 206.72 euros per MWh.

 

New electricity market model launched, PPC role pivotal

A new model for the country’s electricity market, intended to contain soaring prices brought about by the energy crisis, comes into effect today with the introduction, as a first step, of price caps in the wholesale market, setting remuneration upper limits for electricity producers of all categories.

A ministerial decision expected imminently, possibly today, will set upper limits of 112 euros per MWh for hydropower facilities, 85 euros per MWh for renewables, 253.98 euros per MWh for natural gas-fueled power stations and 206.71 euros per MWh for lignite-fired power stations. These limits will remain valid for the first one-month period, starting today.

Any discrepancy between these upper limits and the average price of the day-ahead market will be transferred to the Energy Transition Fund for subsidy support.

The government hopes its plan will subdue electricity prices to levels of between 20 and 30 percent higher than last summer.

Calculations for a finalized electricity price per KWh, following the deduction of subsidies, will be based on state-controlled power utility PPC’s new price list. The government, guided by the utility’s new price list, will set a single price for all suppliers. The level at which PPC will set the bar remains to be seen. The company’s market dominance will set a standard for the entire market.

Though not yet confirmed, it is believed PPC will announce, by July 10, a nominal price of between 460 and 490 euros per MWh, meaning 46-49 cents per KWh.

PPC and all other players are abandoning a 30 percent discount offered to customers. PPC’s subsidies for hydropower and lignite units will now end up with the State, which is assuming the discount-policy role.

Windfall profit tax collection from September, two stages

A tax on windfall profits earned by vertically integrated energy groups since the beginning of the energy crisis will be applied over two stages, the first covering the period between October, 2021 and March, 2022, and the second between April and June.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already begun working on details concerning the first period, but more processing is needed before the windfall profit tax, set at 90 percent, can be imposed.

Also, a ministerial decision from the energy and finance ministries, required by a legislative revision concerning the windfall profits, is still pending. It will specify amounts to be taxed.

Tax collections through this extraordinary measure, to help fund support for consumers through the energy crisis, are not expected to begin until September.

 

Brussels approves wholesale price formula, producer caps

A government package containing a new formula for the country’s wholesale electricity price along with caps for each of the four electricity generating technologies (hydropower, renewables, gas and lignite) has been approved by the European Commission, paving the way towards its implementation as of July 1, sources have informed energypress.

Once a related draft bill, submitted to parliament last Friday, is ratified, a ministerial decision detailing the price caps per technology will be published at the end of this week or early next week. It is eagerly awaited by market participants.

According to sources, the cap on hydropower facilities is expected to be set relatively higher than initially thought, at 110 euros per MWh, well over the initial expectation of between 80 to 90 euros per MWh.

The price cap on renewables is expected to be set at 85 euros per MWh. Natural gas-fueled power stations are seen taking on a cap of between 230 and 240 euros per MWh.

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations will be set a cap of no less than 200 euros per MWh.

The mechanism’s operation will be assumed by EnExClear, the day-ahead market’s clearing authority, which will report, on a daily basis, to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and DAPEEP, the RES market operator.

Cap for electricity generation technologies by end of June

A ministerial decision for price caps to be applied to respective electricity generation technologies is expected by the end of the month, on time for their introduction, planned for July 1.

In the lead-up, within the next few days, authorities are expected to deliver a legislative revision carrying the details of a remuneration mechanism for electricity producers.

The cap on hydropower facilities is expected to be set at a relatively high level, ranging from 100 to 120 euros per MWh, well above initial estimates between 80 and 90 euros per MWh, according to energypress sources.

As for the RES sector, the price cap is expected to be set somewhere between 80 and 90 euros per MWh.

A cap of between 220 and 230 euros per MWh is expected to be set for natural gas-fueled power stations.

Tool sought to stop producer electricity market manipulation

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is looking to introduce a mechanism designed to detect and stop, preventively, actions by electricity producers intended to manipulate the market.

This prospective mechanism is expected to identify the actions of players big enough to influence the market and will also be used for any future energy crises with the aim of swiftly returning any windfall profits earned by electricity producers to the market.

RAE has commissioned ECCO International, a global energy consulting and software company headed by Dr. Alex Papalexopoulos, for a related study examining possible ways in which such a safety tool could be implemented in wholesale electricity markets.

Such preventive tools already exist in the US, Canada and Australia, countries with developed energy markets.

Energy production technology price caps being finalized

Government officials are finalizing decisions for respective price caps to be applied to electricity generation technologies ahead of the introduction, on July 1, of a compensation mechanism for electricity producers.

Power utility PPC’s hydropower facilities are expected to play a key role in the effort. Windfall profits to be deducted from hydropower unit earnings promise to contribute greatly to the Energy Transition Fund, and, by extension, maximize the level of subsidies offered to consumers.

Officials are taking careful steps so that PPC can keep being able to offer discounts and fixed tariffs to customers and avoid falling into loss-incurring territory.

The cap on hydropower facilities is expected to be set at a relatively high level, ranging from 100 to 120 euros per MWh, well above initial estimates between 80 and 90 euros per MWh, according to figures mentioned by sources.

As for the RES sector, the price cap is expected to be set somewhere between 80 and 90 euros per MWh.

According to energypress sources, the European Commission’s approval of the compensation mechanism for electricity producers is expected imminently. It will be given a 12-month duration.

 

Energy companies must now reshape commercial policies

Energy companies will need to reshape their commercial policies as a result of yesterday’s ratification of legislation for extraordinary contributions including a mechanism, effective as of July 1, for collection of windfall profits earned by energy producers.

Though the extraordinary contributions energy companies will need to hand over to the state will be far lower than originally planned, the sum, estimated at between 300 and 400 million euros over a nine-month period, will, nevertheless, result in an outflow of earnings to be used by the government for support of its subsidies offered to consumers.

This sum to result from the tax concerns windfall profits earned from October, 2021.

Vertically integrated energy groups will now need to reassess their commercial policies, including discounts, fixed tariffs, installment-based payment arrangements for overdue energy bills, and punctual-customer bonuses, as the new measures will narrow their profit margins.

The windfall profit tax will be set at 90 percent while a price cap is planned to be imposed in the wholesale electricity market. The level at which this price cap is to be set remains unclear.

 

Producers want discount, fixed tariffs cost deducted from tax

Electricity producers have called for their total cost of discounts and fixed electricity tariffs offered in the market to be deducted from an extraordinary 90 percent tax to be imposed on energy-crisis windfall profits, rather than a deduction of just a percentage of this total cost, as is currently planned.

If the total cost of discounts and fixed electricity tariffs is not deducted from the extraordinary tax, introduced to help fund energy-crisis support measures, then it makes no sense for producers to keep offering discounts, company officials argue.

Heavy taxation after having offered discounts and low fixed tariffs is pointless, especially amid a period of energy crisis, they added.

In other parts of Europe, producers are being offered incentives to maintain tariffs at fixed levels as this approach offers protection at a turbulent time for electricity prices.

The extraordinary measure is planned to tax windfall profits earned by electricity producers between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

 

 

Electricity producer tax for windfall profits in parliament

A draft bill proposing an extraordinary 90 percent tax on windfall profits earned by electricity producers – primarily operators of natural gas-fueled power stations – as a result of sharply higher natural gas prices over the past nine-month period, has been submitted to parliament for discussion and ratification following talks on the matter between the finance and energy ministries.

The draft bill is planned to legislate this extraordinary tax as well as a formula to be used for calculating respective company amounts to be taxed.

Discounts offered by companies to customers will be reduced from sums to be taxed, along with any returns resulting from bilateral contracts.

Once the draft bill is legislated, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will calculate amounts for each company to be subject to the extraordinary tax.

According to a related report prepared by RAE and delivered to the government and parliament, power utility PPC represents 729.91 million euros of the market’s total of 927.44 million euros in windfall profits amassed over a six-month period between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

The country’s independent producers, Mytilineos, Elpedison and Heron, along with RES producers participating in the market, represent the remaining 197.53 million euros in windfall profits, the RAE report determined.

RAE proposes €67m return from power producers to suppliers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has proposed a legislative revision that would facilitate a return of 67 million euros, by electricity producers – expect RES producers – to suppliers, an amount representing unpaid balancing-market earnings between November, 2020 and February, 2021, during the launch of the target model.

The amounts that would be returned to suppliers concern two categories, companies that had passed on excessive costs to customers, as well as companies that had not passed on excessive costs to their customers.

According to information obtained by energypress, two retailers, power utility PPC and Volterra, had not passed on excessive costs to their customers. In this case, money to be returned will go straight into the company coffers of these two firms.

Returns for companies that had passed on excessive costs to customers will be injected into the Energy Transition Fund as support for subsidies offered to consumers.

 

 

Electricity producers’ excess profit €600m, net sum €200m

Excess profits earned by electricity producers during the ongoing energy crisis’ period between October, 2021 and March, 2022 reached 600 million euros, an 80 percent share of this amount gained by power utility PPC, the dominant player, an inquiry held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has found.

The findings of this report, forwarded to energy minister Kostas Skrekas last Friday, concern vertically integrated energy groups active in electricity production and supply.

Most of these excess profits have been utilized by energy companies to support their pricing policies in avoidance of even further price rises, the RAE reported has noted.

Sector officials have estimated the sum of excess profits channeled by energy companies for pricing-policy support at 400 million euros, meaning the net amount of excess earnings is 200 million euros.

Energy companies have offered discounts and subdued, as much as possible, retail prices with these excess profits.

The government has announced it will impose a 90 percent tax rate on excess profits, but details of this plan remain unclear.

Funds to be collected by the state will be used to support ongoing subsidies offered to consumers.

Electricity market players greet support package with relief

The country’s electricity suppliers have welcomed energy-crisis support measures announced by the government late last week with relief as well as some uncertainty, especially concerning an existing wholesale price clause included in electricity bills and whether it will continue to apply or be suspended.

The support package has been embraced by the sector as it promises to offer electricity suppliers cash-flow relief, especially non-vertically integrated companies or energy companies generating limited quantities, through production-cost protection measures and lower electricity purchase costs for energy retailers.

Energy company fears of a rise in unpaid receivables as a result of increased difficulties faced by consumers to service electricity bills have also been appeased by a new round of subsidies included in the government support package.

The energy crisis of the past ten months has resulted in a domino effect spreading debt throughout the entire electricity market, including amounts owed to operators, as energy company have struggled to deliver regulated fees.

RAE completes windfall profits inquiry in electricity generation

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has completed an inquiry into windfall profits earned by electricity producers during the energy crisis and is set to forward its results to the government and energy ministry this coming Friday, once they have been endorsed by the authority’s board, energypress sources have informed.

The inquiry covers the period up to the end of 2021. The government has announced windfall profits will be heavily taxed.

To determine profits in electricity production, RAE officials took into account electricity production-unit profit levels every 15 minutes, the frequency at which energy exchange offers are made, for all facilities of all production technologies (natural gas, lignite, renewables) and then compared these results to annual profit figures posted by each producer.

Though the amount of windfall profits resulting from RAE’s inquiry is not yet known, the results are not expected to be spectacular, according to energypress sources.

Just over a month ago, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that a 90 percent tax rate will be imposed on windfall profits earned in electricity production.

RAE will follow up with an inquiry into possible windfall profits in the wholesale and retail gas markets, as well as electricity supply.

Energy suppliers set to receive €600m in subsidy compensation

Energy supply companies stand to receive compensation worth a total of 600 million euros within the next few days to cover subsidized energy support offered by the government to consumers between September and December, sources have informed.

An additional amount of 100 million euros will also be offered to energy suppliers early in the new year to offset increased energy subsidies for December, announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday. All these funds will stem from the Energy Transition Fund.

Energy suppliers and producers have been severely impacted by the energy crisis’ higher prices in the wholesale gas and electricity markets.

Suppliers have needed to dig deeper into company coffers to pay greater amount for wholesale electricity needed to cover consumer needs, while producers have been forced to pay more for wholesale gas required for generation.

 

RAE adopts new redispatching system, producers fear cost increases

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided to move ahead with an energy balancing and redispatching plan in accordance with a formula prepared by power grid operator IPTO following a meeting yesterday between representatives of ESAI, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, and IPTO.

Public consultation was also staged by RAE on the IPTO formula, prepared by the operator after being commissioned by the authority.

ESAI has expressed concern about the new plan, warning that changes to the current system could increase, rather than contain, balancing costs in the wholesale electricity market, amongst other dangers.

Natural gas-fired electricity producers noted that balancing market revisions decided on ought to have undergone an extensive trial period before being implemented.

 

Power producer LNG orders unaffected by higher gas prices

Increased natural gas prices in international markets have not restrained LNG imports at gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens, data provided by the operator has shown.

LNG orders at the Revythoussa terminal for the two-month period covering August and September, placed primarily by power producers, seeking international market opportunities to subdue fuel costs, as well as gas company DEPA, total more than 742,000 cubic meters, the DESFA data showed.

This quantity represents six LNG tanker loads, ordered by as many key domestic natural gas market players for the two-month period.

Two loads, the first for power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, and the second for Elpedison, arrived during the first half of August. A third tanker carrying LNG orders placed by Mytilineos and Heron will follow this month, bringing August’s LNG orders total at the Revythoussa terminal to 376,000 cubic meters.

Three more LNG shipments are scheduled to arrive at the Revythoussa facility in September. The first of these concerns orders placed by PPC and Motor Oil Hellas totaling 146,000 cubic meters. The second shipment will be for a 73,000-cubic meter order placed by DEPA, while the third concerns a 147,000-cubic meter order made by Elpedison.

Natural gas prices have remained high in international markets, currently about triple the price of levels in March.

Target model non-compliance cost formula effective, IPTO notes

A new target model formula calculating discrepancy cost is proving effective as, in most cases, it is impacting the finances of electricity producers and suppliers when they deviate from distribution orders and loading plans, power grid operator IPTO has noted.

As a result, the discrepancy cost formula should, for the time being, continue to apply for both electricity producers and suppliers as it appears to be offering a balancing incentive, the operator has recommended.

IPTO’s proposal has been forwarded to public consultation, taking place until May 7, for a scheduled reassessment of factors concerning non-compliance charges following the target model’s recent launch.

PPC production share dips since 2010, still among EU’s top 10 leaders

Eurostat data identifying the biggest energy producers of EU member states and their respective shares has highlighted a delay in Greece’s electricity market liberalization, specifically in the domain of electricity generation.

Greek power utility PPC maintained a 51.3 percent share of the country’s electricity production in 2019 – the year for which most recent data is available – placing the country in ninth place among 25 member states, in terms of the size of the leading producer’s market share.

Despite being ranked relatively high on this list, PPC’s share of production, from a long-range perspective, has contracted substantially over the past decade or so.

PPC has shed 33.8 percent since 2010, when its share of total electricity production stood at 85.1 percent. Independent producers began emerging in Greece’s electricity production market about a decade ago.

Similar electricity production share drops, by the leading producers, have also been recorded in other member states.

In Belgium, the share of the country’s top producer fell by 39.5 percent to 39.1 percent during the equivalent period. In France, the top producer’s share fell from 86.5 percent to 65.6 percent, while in Slovakia the dominant producer shed 28 percent of its share.

The biggest decline was registered in Luxembourg, where the leading electricity producer’s share of 85.4 percent in 2010 plummeted to 18.1 percent in 2019.

A full monopoly was maintained on Cyprus with the state-controlled utility representing 100 percent of generation in 2019.

The Cypriot utility, topping the list, was followed by the biggest producers in: Latvia (86.4%), Croatia (80%), Estonia (76.4%), France (65.6%), Czech Republic (60.5%), Slovenia (53%), and Slovakia (52.8%).

RAE upper limit on balancing market offers still possible

A decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on whether to intervene further following yesterday’s decisions to suspend negative prices for balancing energy market offers and limit them in accordance with minimum production levels that are technically possible will depend on how balancing market prices unfold, authority officials have pointed out.

The possibility of an upper limit for balancing energy market offers cannot be ruled out, the RAE officials explained.

Commenting on yesterday’s initiatives by RAE, electricity producers, on the one hand, and non-vertically integrated suppliers, traders and major-scale consumers, on the other, offered conflicting opinions.

The imposition of a zero-level threshold for offers was not necessary as extreme prices, or behavior, no longer exist in the balancing market to justify the measure, electricity producers contended, warning that it could prompt new market distortions.

The producers also expressed concern over RAE’s preference to not set a specific time period for the negative-price suspension’s validity.

At the other end, Antonis Kontoleon, the head official of EVIKEN, Greece’s Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, noted that RAE has taken a step back from its own proposal for an upper limit on balancing energy market offers as well as upper and lower limits for balancing capacity market offers.

Industrial energy consumers will remain dependent on whether balancing market participants exercise restraint, the EVIKEN chief underlined.

Suppliers and traders described the two RAE measures implemented yesterday as a first step in the right direction.

The impact of the measure limiting offers in accordance with minimum production levels that are technically possible cannot be quantified, they noted, adding the zero-level threshold measure will prevent sharp price rises but would prove insufficient if, for any reason, self-restraint stops being observed in the balancing market.

One trader noted that the zero-level threshold, to prove effective, must be maintained until power grid operator IPTO completes the “western corridor” grid in the Peloponnese.

RAE consultation on balancing market restrictions ends today

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will need to make decisions following today’s conclusion of its public consultation on a price ceiling proposed by the authority for electricity producer offers in the balancing market.

The authority held a series of meetings yesterday with all producers operating gas-fueled power stations and will now need to decide on whether to incorporate observations made by producers into its plan as part of the effort to resolve issues that have become apparent during the first six weeks of the target model’s new markets, including the balancing market. Wholesale electricity prices have risen sharply.

Producers have tabled a number of varying, even conflicting, proposals. Some producers insist that the imposition of any restrictive measure runs contrary to the free-market principles promised by the target model. Others believe any restrictions should be set at low levels, but not as low as levels proposed by RAE.

Producers believe the balancing market’s problem is linked to energy quantities not price restrictions, warning that supply sufficiency problems could result during periods of high demand if levels as low as those proposed by RAE are eventually set.

Balancing market restrictions have applied until recently in more mature markets such as those of Belgium and the Netherlands. Balancing market conditions differ from country to country as respective levels of flexibility vary.

 

 

Producers content with target model markets, suppliers edgy

Any nervousness felt by producers over the target model’s new markets ahead of their November 1 launch are swiftly being quelled by rational trading results. On the contrary, non-vertically integrated suppliers have experienced cost increases and, as a result, are concerned about their company prospects.

Although it still too early to tell, electricity producers believe day-ahead market prices are reflecting actual conditions, rising with shortages and falling with any oversupply.

Day-ahead market prices began at 60.44 euros per MWh on November 11, fell as low as 41.11 euros per MWh on Saturday and rose to 68.36 euros per MWh for today.

These price levels for the day-ahead market, known as the System Marginal Price under the previous system, are regarded as being at rational levels.

Producers have also expressed satisfaction over the balancing market, a largely unknown entity prior to the target model’s launch. Prices have been high, enabling units with flexibility to ensure solid earnings.

Day-ahead market prices are projected to fall, which would subsequently limit electricity imports and require domestic power stations to operate for longer hours.

Higher earnings for producers mean greater costs for suppliers. Non-integrated suppliers are concerned about their prospects under such conditions.