PPC eagerly awaiting right time to launch securitization plan

Power utility PPC is ready to pounce on the first opportunity it will get to launch its securitization plan for unpaid receivables owed by customers.

Extraordinary market conditions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s wider impact have delayed the plan, whose various technical details and negotiations with investors have been completed.

The terms of the securitization effort would be too costly for PPC if the utility were to launch the plan under the present conditions.

PPC’s electricity bill collections have dropped by a level estimated between 25 and 30 percent over the past 20 days, latest company data has indicated.

However, the extent of the coronavirus-related impact on this reduction in electricity bill payments is unclear as Hellenic Post (ELTA) has experienced delays in posting hundreds of thousands of bills to customers during this same period.

A clearer picture on the pandemic’s impact on PPC’s unpaid receivables is expected towards the end of this month.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and the energy ministry have both requested updated collection figures from all the country’s power supply companies.

ELTA now eyeing households, businesses after mid-voltage effort

ELTA (Hellenic Post), now also operating as an electricity supplier, is preparing to launch a campaign to focus on maximizing its market share in the retail electricity market’s low-voltage category, which caters to business and household consumers.

The company made an aggressive entry into the electricity market’s mid-voltage category, now seen as a sector offering little growth potential.

ELTA’s aggressive pricing policy, which led to a tenfold increase of its retail electricity market share in less than a year, raised suspicions of collusion with fellow utility PPC, the main power utility, and also led to appeals by rival firms.

ELTA’s market share registered at close to one percent last August, up from 0.09 percent in September, 2017, official data showed.

As part of its upcoming low-voltage category effort, ELTA is planning to stage seminars for staff members around the country on new energy products and services to be promoted. Staff training is already underway in Thessaloniki.

ELTA’s administration believes the firm’s extensive retail network will offer a comparative advantage and attract customers.

Major customers such as Metro Cash & Carry, Creta Farm, the Galaxia supermarket chain, Elite, Thrace Mills, as well as the Church of Greece, have all signed up with ELTA, the firm recently announced.

Electricity market players eagerly awaiting new ELTA leadership’s policies

The electricity market policy to be pursued by the forthcoming administration at ELTA (Hellenic Post), expected to be announced at a shareholders’ meeting tomorrow, is being eagerly awaited by market players.

ELTA, now also operating as an electricity supplier, has achieved a tenfold increase of its retail electricity market share in less than a year, from 0.09 percent in September, 2017 to 1 percent last month. This represents total supply of 750 million KWh.

For quite some time now, market officials have contended state-run ELTA could be selling electricity at break-even or even below-cost tariff levels. The issue gained wider exposure in April when it was disclosed that main power utility PPC customer electricity bill payments made at ELTA outlets were being systematically withheld by the postal company.

This prompted RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to launch an investigation to determine whether the delayed transfers of electricity bill payments, from ELTA to PPC coffers, were being deliberately orchestrated by the two utilities to financially support ELTA’s competitive pricing policies.

Rival suppliers suspect PPC may be colluding with ELTA so that the latter can provide further competition against independent power suppliers seeking retail electricity market share gains.

Last month, RAE summoned PPC to a hearing. The power utility submitted its defense, now being examined by the energy authority. ELTA has yet to be summoned by RAE but a hearing is expected within September, energypress sources informed. ELTA’s response at the upcoming hearing will serve as a reliable indicator of the firm’s prospective electricity market policies.

A strategic plan concerning ELTA’s restructuring, prepared by the country’s new super-privatization fund and delivered early this year, describes the energy sector as a high-risk market offering opportunities, as a result of liberalized markets, still-suppressed wholesale electricity prices and NOME auctions, as well as dangers linked to price fluctuations and elevated unpaid receivables concerning energy bills.

 

 

 

PPC hearing for ELTA transfer delays of bill payments reset

A RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) hearing originally scheduled for today, summoning the main power utility PPC to offer explanations concerning delayed money transfers, to the power utility, of PPC customer electricity bill payments made at ELTA (Hellenic Post) outlets, has been postponed for July 3 following a request made by PPC.

RAE is conducting an investigation to determine whether these transfer delays are being deliberately orchestrated by the two utilities in order to support competitive pricing policies offered by ELTA, now also operating as an electricity supplier.

It is suspected PPC may be colluding with ELTA so that the latter can provide further competition against independent power suppliers seeking retail market share gains.

RAE wants to be informed by PPC on the action it has taken since May 7, when the authority forwarded a letter to all electricity suppliers requesting detailed updates, especially from PPC, on ELTA’s payment transfer delays. PPC has yet to deliver on RAE demands, sources believe.

Rather than demand all PPC electricity bill payment records from ELTA to determine the status of PPC electricity bills paid by customers at the postal company’s outlets, the power utility has instead been summoning customers to its offices for presentations of receipts issued at the ELTA outlets as proof. Otherwise, PPC customers face the risk of being double-billed and being deprived of a 15 percent discount offered by the power utility to punctual customers.

ELTA has forwarded transaction details requested by RAE but it remains to be seen if this information will suffice to answer the authority’s questions.

Independent suppliers have also been summoned by RAE as part of the ongoing investigation. They have been asked to provide additional information by the end of July.

 

 

 

 

PPC to face hearing over ELTA transfer delays of bill payments

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is continuing its investigation of cash flow trends at ELTA (Hellenic Post) to determine whether electricity bill payments made by main power utility PPC customers at the postal company’s outlets have been deliberately withheld for support of its pricing policies concerning electricity supply.

It is suspected that ELTA, holding a power supply license and active in the country’s retail electricity market, could be colluding with fellow utility PPC.

The authority also plans to summon PPC officials to a hearing this Thursday for explanations of moves made concerning the case.

ELTA has forwarded a considerable amount of financial information demanded by RAE. It is not yet known whether the authority will require more details from the postal company. Sources said RAE is now processing data to determine its next step.

According to sources, PPC has not fully covered demands made by RAE in a letter forwarded by the authority in an effort to trace cash flow irregularities. PPC was expected to request extensive electricity bill payment records from ELTA. These instructions were forwarded to all electricity suppliers in an effort to shape an overall view of the market.

If not satisfied by the power utility’s answers, the authority could end up imposing a fine on PPC for its role in the case. According to law, maximum fines can reach as reach as much as 10 percent of PPC’s turnover. However, any eventual fine is expected to be milder.

Findings so far indicate that ELTA has withheld PPC electricity bill payments for over a year, with intervals.

 

 

PPC market share contraction, behind schedule, continues at a slow pace

The main power utility PPC’s market share contraction continued at a slower-than-required pace in May, unofficial data has shown, keeping the utility – and country – well behind on bailout agreement target figures.

PPC ended May with a retail electricity market share of approximately 80.7 percent, a drop of around 1.3 percent compared to April’s 82 percent, the unofficial data showed.

Independent suppliers made just a slight overall gain between April and May.

ELTA (Hellenic Post), holding an electricity supply license, has made sharp gains since its relatively recent entry into Greece’s retail electricity market. ELTA now holds a market share of over one percent, up from 0.78 percent in April.

Additional electricity amounts to be offered to independent suppliers through NOME auctions are scheduled to be determined this month, during a review of the auctions, as a bailout-related penalty prompted by PPC’s failure to meet its market share contraction targets so far.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece nearly two years ago to offer independent players access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources.

According to the bailout, PPC’s market share needs to fall to 62.24 percent by the end of this year, now seen as an impossible feat. The power utility’s market share was supposed to have fallen to 75.24 percent by the end of 2017 but ended the year more than ten percentage points over the target. A 49.24 percent target has been set for the end of 2019.

 

 

RAE probe into ELTA delays of PPC bill payments deepening

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is probing ELTA (Hellenic Post) to determine whether the pricing policies of the postal company, now also a retail electricity supplier, have been supported by fellow state-run firm PPC, the main power utility. PPC officials will be questioned as part of the investigation.

It was recently made known that the postal firm has delayed transfering PPC electricity bill payments made by PPC customers at ELTA outlets.

The energy market authority intends to request from ELTA data concerning monthly cashflow figures.

The investigation will also examine the firm monitoring ELTA as payment point for bills. It is unclear who the monitoring agent is. Some sources noted the Bank of Greece holds this responsibility while others contend it is EETT, the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission.

Data made available to RAE so far indicates that the postal company has held on to PPC electricity bill money concerning payments of a few hundred thousand customers.

Though the investigation is still in progress it already appears ELTA has been withholding PPC money on a wide scale, with interruptions, for over one year.

ELTA should be handing over PPC-related amounts within two to three days but appears to have withheld sums for periods of between 15 and 20 days.

Related data still needs to be cross-examined for conclusive findings.

RAE is not satisfied with PPC and ELTA explanations provided so far, sources have informed.

The authority could end up imposing a fine on PPC for its role in the case, from minor to hefty – worth millions representing 10 percent of the utility’s turnover – depending on the severity.

Data collected so far by RAE from various electricity suppliers suggests that ELTA, as a payment point, has only withheld PPC-related sums.

ELTA transfer delays of PPC bill payments between €45-60m

Delayed ELTA (Hellenic Post) transfers of main power utility PPC electricity bill payments made by consumers via ELTA outlets and payment services are estimated to amount to a sum of between 45 million and 60 million euros, not 20 million euros, as was originally believed.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has begun a probe seeking reasons for the delayed transfers following consumer protection group complaints.

Customer complaints began surfacing in March, roughly one and a half months before the issue gained wider attention.

Many PPC customers have consequently missed out on a 15 percent discount offered by the utility as a result of these delays.

ELTA officials have remained silent over the matter. According to some sources, procedures were launched last week for a partial resolvement, including amounts owed by the Greek State to ELTA for various services.

RAE officials are contemplating the prospect of referring the matter to the competition committee as a means of determining whether ELTA has withheld PPC electricity bill payment amounts to support its cash flow, operating costs as well as its own discount policy as an electricity supplier. Data made available so far in the probe does not suggest ELTA has gone this far.

 

RAE probing ELTA transfer delays of PPC bill payments

Responding to a consumer protection group complaint, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has begun a probe seeking reasons for delayed ELTA (Hellenic Post) transfers of main power utility PPC electricity bill payments made by consumers at ELTA outlets.

The consumer protection group yesterday forwarded a related letter to PPC and ELTA seeking an explanation for the money transfer delays from ELTA to PPC, which prompted RAE to intervene for a wider investigation.

As an initial response, ELTA has attributed its delay in transfering PPC electricity bill amounts to a temporary cash flow problem that should be resolved within the next few days.

The consumer protection group noted that the transfer delays from ELTA to PPC are depriving consumers of a 15 percent discount offered by the power utility for punctual electricity bill payments. In some cases, as part of the wider mix up, consumers are even being requested to repay electricity bills that have already been serviced or have faced electricity supply cut pressure.

Pundits have questioned whether supervisory officials would be showing the same level of tolerance had ELTA not been a state-run enterprise.

Besides serving as an outlet for PPC electricity bill payments, ELTA has also entered the retail electricity market. Recent market data suggested the two state-controlled firms may be implicitly cooperating to increase the difficulties faced by independent players aiming to increase their market shares.

As part of its investigation, RAE has forwarded a letter containing a series of questions to all suppliers. The authority has requested responses within ten days.

The authority wants suppliers to provide specific information on a range of issues, including  delayed payment transfer durations, amounts concerned, and whether these delays have deprived consumers of discounts or prompted electricity supply cuts.

 

Independent suppliers suspect foul play between utilities ELTA, PPC

Swift retail electricity market share gains made by ELTA (Hellenic Post) have prompted concerns among independent power supplier officials, suspecting foul play, or implicit cooperation, between ELTA and fellow utility PPC, the main power utility, still dominant but facing bailout-required market share contraction targets.

In just three months, between December and February, ELTA, a relatively new arrival in the retail electricity market, increased its market share from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent, a 100 percent increase, according to the latest monthly report published by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator.

Independent suppliers active in the highly competitive retail electricity market for considerably longer periods have made far slower progress. They have been forced to adjust their offers to extremely narrow profit margins.

The three main independent players, whose portfolios include power generation facilities, continue to hold modest shares of the market. Heron is at 3.4 percent, Protergia at 3.45 percent and Elpedison at 3.47 percent. Watt & Volt, an independent player without power generation facilities, holds a 1.4 percent share.

ELTA has achieved its swift market share gains by attracting major-scale consumers such as retail chains and industrial enterprises, officials closely monitoring the situation have noted. Some of these electricity supply offers made by ELTA are believed to be below cost.

ELTA’s bidding policy at the NOME auctions, providing independent players with access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources, is also being viewed with suspicion. At the most recent NOME session, staged last month, ELTA acquired 40 MW/h for its 0.6 percent of the market, when suppliers whose market shares are more than double this figure acquired smaller quantities.

 

 

Further mild market share loss at PPC, ELTA gains ground

The main power utility PPC appears to have lost approximately one percentage point of its retail electricity market share in February, down to 84 percent from 84.9 percent in January, unofficial data suggests.

This latest retreat adds to half a percentage point shed by PPC in January, following an upward trajectory over three consecutive months in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Even so, PPC’s market share contraction remains insufficient, and, at such a rate, the end-of-year target included in the bailout will not be achieved.

The power utility missed the target set for the end of 2017 by more than ten percentage points, meaning it will need to move particularly fast to make up this lost ground and also cover the target set for 2018.

The February results for other suppliers were assorted. Market share increases and decreases were registered, according to the unofficial data.

Hellenic Post (ELTA), still hovering with a small market share, gained ground, especially in the mid-voltage category. The state-controlled postal company, seeking needed additional revenue in the retail electricity market, is competing fiercely through low-price offers, especially in the mid and high-voltage categories. Subsequently, ELTA is primarily attracting new customers from independent suppliers rather than PPC.

Company officials at rival suppliers have reported that ELTA is offering below-cost packages, which will lead to inevitable losses for the firm.

The Greek State holds a 90 percent stake in ELTA. Eurobank controls the firm’s other 10 percent.

The country’s new super privatization fund, now controlling ELTA, has warned the firm that its entry into Greece’s retail electricity market constitutes a high-risk venture. The privatization fund is not expected to tolerate further losses at ELTA.

 

 

Ailing ELTA, eyeing electricity market entry, warned of risks

ELTA, Hellenic Post, making plans to enter the retail electricity market as a move that could generated additional, and needed, revenue from an alternative source, has been warned by the country’s new super privatization fund, now controlling the enterprise, that such an initiative carries considerable risk, which could lead to repercussions if the endeavor is not successful.

The fund, in a report listing business proposals for ELTA, makes clear that the country’s retail electricity market offer opportunities as a result of its liberalized conditions, lower wholesale electricity prices, and NOME auctions as lower-cost purchase platforms for suppliers. However, the fund also warns of a high risk entailed as a result of price fluctuations and electricity bill collection difficulties.

Struggling to remain afloat, ELTA, cannot affort to make any wrong moves. The Greek State’s 90 percent stake in the enterprise is now controlled by the privatization fund. Eurobank holds the firm’s other 10 percent.

ELTA, already covering its own energy needs through electricity amount purchases at previous NOME auctions – introduced late in 2016 to offer suppliers access to the main power utility PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources – is now preparing to utilize its extensive nationwide retail network for a wider entry into the electricity market in 2018, according to sources.

The firm aims to sell an electricity amount of 72,500 MWh in 2018, including to company employees and associates, which could provide revenues of 20 million euros.

At present, ELTA employs 6,418 persons, operates 690 retail outlets, 694 agencies, 81 distribution centers as well as 10 processing units around Greece. It posted a turonover figure of 311.8 million euros last year, down 40 percent from 521.1 million euros posted in 2010, when the recession had just begun to impact the country. Profit fell from 3.2 million euros to just 400,000 euros last year.

ELTA preparing to launch its electricity market entry

The official launch of ELTA’s (Hellenic Post) campaign to accompany its entry into Greece’s retail electricity market is now just a matter of weeks, possibly days, away, according to energypress sources.

ELTA’s board has already examined and endorsed the pricing policy to be pursued by the company, while the information system to be installed at the firm’s branches has been tested.

A team of 200 ELTA staff members has received in-depth training on the electricity market. This personnel will head the electricity departments at ELTA’s branches, which, besides postal and money transfer services, will now also offer electricity supply packages.

ELTA’s promotional campaign is expected to begin in earnest as soon as the installation of the company’s new information system has been completed.

According to the ELTA business plan, a 15-MWh electricity package acquired by the company at the inaugural NOME auction last October is expected to cover the new electricity market arrival’s development needs over the next seven months.

Sources have informed that ELTA’s electricity supply offers will be competitive compared to the main power utility PPC’s terms. The ELTA offer will not incorporate discounts as incentives for each billing period, as is the case at PPC. However, clients are expected to be financially rewarded for longer-term punctuality.

As the preliminary stage of its electricity market entry, ELTA is already supplying its own retail network of roughly 640 branches. As the next step, the company will seek to lure its own employees and retired staff members. Further ahead, ELTA also plans to launch campaigns targeted at the wider electricity market as part of its objective to play an instrumental role in the liberalized energy market.

 

 

 

 

ELTA planning electricity market entry at the start of 2017

ELTA (Hellenic Post) is planning to enter the electricity supply market at the beginning of the year with competitive offers that will include bonuses for punctual customers.

The company, which is already supplying electricity to approximately 640 company outlets, distribution and processing centers, plans to make a gradual entry into the retail electricity market.

ELTA will initially focus on establishing power supply deals with company staff and retired ELTA personnel, followed by frequent customers, and then the wider public.

ELTA is currently completing tests concerning the information system to be used for its new power supply endeavor, while 200 personnel members have received in-depth electricity market training.

The company plans to utilize its extensive retail network by stationing energy sector experts at its outlets.

ELTA is also preparing to launch a promotional campaign that will aim to further familiarize consumers with the ongoing liberalization process of Greece’s electricity market.

ELTA officials believe the company stands a greater chance of luring PPC customers than private-sector independent suppliers as a result of the role of the Greek State, which controls ELTA with a 90 percent stake. The bailout requires PPC to reduce its retail electricity market share to less than 50 percent by 2020.

 

 

ELTA prepares for full-on December entry into electricity market

ELTA (Hellenic Post), which has emerged as the first candidate to express an interest in acquiring a share of main power utility PPC’s clients, is planning to enter the electricity retail market in full force next month, according to sources.

The postal company, which holds an electricity supply license, will strive to combine its arrival into Greece’s retail electricity market with the acquisition of a share of PPC’s customer portfolio. PPC plans to split and sell a portion of its business in the form of at least one new retail company to be offered through a tender.

Market data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator responsible for the operation of the wholesale electricity market, showed that ELTA supplied 1.879 MWh in October. Representing a market share of just 0.05 percent, this amount was presumably used to cover the electricity needs of ELTA’s business network.

Judging by the level of enthusiasm expressed by ELTA to take on a share of PPC’s clients, this subdued ELTA market share figure could soon experience a sudden boost.

PPC’s split-and-sale offer is expected to provide the prospective buyer with a market share of between 6 to 7 percent. This would instantly place the buyer well ahead of the pack of independent suppliers seeking to gain ground on PPC, still dominating the market with a share of just over 88 percent.

Latest figures provided by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, placed Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, in second place with a 2.99 percent share in October.

The retail supply firm, or firms, to emerge from PPC’s split-and-sale plan could be sold in their entirety or majority stakes may be offered. Though many market officials appear hesitant, fearing that PPC may unload clients with serious arrears into the sale offer’s package, ELTA appears determined to press ahead.

PPC and ELTA have already established close ties, as they have publically admitted. ELTA officials have stressed their corporation will secure needed financing if a sustainable business plan is presented to creditors.

ELTA recently raised eyebrows by acquiring a 15 MWh amount of electricity at last month’s inaugural NOME auction, despite not having established a network of clients to which this amount can be sold.

ELTA officials believe that as a state-controlled company, ELTA – the Greek State holds a 90 percent stake and Eurobank Ergasias the other 10 percent – will be in an advantageous position to draw clients abandoning PPC. Bailout measures require PPC to significantly reduce its market share over the next few years.

The ELTA officials are also counting on the corporation’s extensive retail network of 1,500 outlets and agencies as  a vehicle that will help it penetrate the retail electricity market.

Besides ELTA, two more companies, KEN and Volton, are expected to soon enter the electricity retail market. The arrival of all three firms is expected to further reshuffle standings in the local electricity market.

ELTA an early candidate in PPC sale plan to offer retail portion

ELTA (Hellenic Post) has emerged as the first candidate to express an interest in acquiring a share of main power utility PPC’s clients through the latter’s plan to split and sell a portion of its business in the form of at least one new retail company to be offered through a tender.

Though market players remain hesitant about the PPC plan, fearing it could burden robust independent suppliers with undesirable PPC customers carrying arrears, the power utility appears determined to press ahead with the initiative as a means of avoiding bailout-linked market share contraction targets to be sought through the just-introduced NOME auctions.

The objective of the NOME auctions is to provide third parties with access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources as a measure to help break the utility’s market dominance.

PPC’s new retail company or companies are planned to represent about 6 to 7 percent of the utility’s market share, or roughly 400,000 clients. Last week, PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis noted that the new company would be formed by March.

ELTA purchased a 15-MW package of electricity at last month’s inaugural NOME auction but does  not possess a retail network to supply this amount to the market. As things stand, ELTA could either sell this amount to suppliers at a small profit, at best, return it to the grid at a loss.

Alternatively, if PPC carries out its plan to stage a tender selling a new retail company, or companies, and ELTA emerges as the buyer, the latter would not only be able to supply the 15 MW electricity amount to the market but also suddenly emerge as the market follower with a 6 to 7 percent share of the electricity retail market, well ahead of the current second-placed firm, currently holding a share of about 3 percent. PPC still dominates with a market share of about 88 percent.

ELTA had commissioned PPC as a technical adviser for a development plan.

The majority of independent suppliers have declared they cannot adopt positions on the PPC plan as it remains murky, adding that the type of clients to be included in the utility’s split-and-sell plan are a prime factor.

 

 

 

ELTA, focusing on energy, to convert fleet to natural gas

ELTA (Hellenic Post) is placing particular emphasis on energy-related issues as it goes about developing its corporate strategy for the future.

Following an announcement several months ago of its ambitious plan to enter the retail electricity market, which would further utilize the company’s extensive retail network around the country, ELTA is now also preparing to convert all its company vehicles so that they may run on natural gas, according to energypress sources. ELTA maintains a fleet numbering many hundreds of vehicles.

Also, ELTA plans to begin supplying its fleet with natural gas from its company-owned refueling stations.

In addition, ELTA and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) have, according to sources, reached an agreement to begin offering ELTA postal services at petrol stations operated by ELPE. Customers will be able to receive and send mail and packages at these stations.