Household, business electricity demand down 6.7% in April

Higher energy prices prompted a 6.7 percent decrease in electricity demand among households and enterprises in April, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, according to a monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO.

Overall electricity demand fell at a smaller rate of 3.79 percent as demand for high-voltage electricity supplied to the industrial sector rose by 3.3 percent, the IPTO data showed.

Higher electricity demand in the industrial sector has been linked to export activity as well as pre-determined electricity tariff agreements, protecting producers from the steep energy price rises of late.

High-priced electricity and, by extension, more expensive products, has impacted the purchasing power of consumers, forcing many shops to restrict their business hours.

Output at natural gas-fueled power stations fell 48.8 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier, while lignite-fired power stations increased their production by 57.2 percent, the IPTO report showed. Overall, electricity production fell 19.9 percent in April compared to a year earlier, the data showed.

RES production rose, favorable weather conditions being a key factor, to take green energy’s share of the country’s energy mix to 57.34 percent, the IPTO figures showed.

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.

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.

Subsidies remain key tool to counter steep energy prices

Electricity bill subsidies will remain the basic tool in the government’s policy seeking to offer households and businesses protection against the energy crisis’ exorbitant electricity prices, it has been decided at a Brussels meeting.

DG Energy and DG Comp authorities, in talks with Greek government officials, did not permit wholesale market measures for electricity purchases by suppliers at levels below the System Marginal Price, a lower cost that would then have been passed on to consumers.

Brussels officials had expressed hesitation from earlier on for a two-pronged solution entailing wholesale and retail market intervention as the European Commission wanted to avoid, at all costs, any impact on the target model, Europe’s unified electricity market.

As a result, energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou arrived in Brussels yesterday with a simpler alternative plan that was shaped to be more compatible with the European Commission’s sensitivities.

 

Swift Brussels approval sought for energy market measures

The energy ministry’s leadership will seek swift approval of a national plan for two-pronged intervention in the wholesale and retail electricity markets, intended to subdue energy prices, at a meeting with European Commission officials in Brussels today.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will discuss the country’s plan with DG Energy technocrats. The government has announced the measures will be implemented July 1.

The measures include a suspension of wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses included in retail electricity bills as well as a wholesale price-cap mechanism.

These measures, however, will not necessarily keep tariffs steady. On the contrary, suppliers will, after informing customers, be able to adjust kilowatt hour prices based on their wholesale electricity purchase costs.

According to sources, Greece’s plan stands a strong chance of being approved by the European Commission as it essentially does not affect the target model and also includes a taxation measure for windfall profits earned by electricity producers, a measure repeatedly proposed by the European Commission.

Key energy infrastructure included in new recovery fund

The government, intending to make the most of its favourable geographic location for diversified natural gas supply in the wider region, plans to seek EU funding support, through the REPowerEU package, for a series of natural gas and electricity grid projects awaiting development.

These projects are planned to be included in the country’s revised EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, to be submitted to by the government to the European Commission by early July.

The investments will aim to end Greece’s reliance on Russian energy sources by 2027, as planned by the REPowerEU package.

Besides the addition of natural gas infrastructure, absent from Greece’s existing recovery plan as a result of the European Commission’s unfavorable view on funding support for projects concerning natural gas, seen as a transitional energy source towards zero emissions, the country’s revised plan will also seek to incorporate electricity transmission projects that will contribute to the reinforcement of renewable energy sources in Europe’s energy mix.

The government is believed to have already prepared its catalogue of electricity and natural gas infrastructure project proposals to seek funding through the REPowerEU initiative.

An electricity grid interconnection project to link the Greek and Egyptian systems and transmit green energy, exclusively, to Greece and the EU has been included in the Greek catalogue, sources informed.

An additional central gas pipeline, to run 650 km from Komotini, northeastern Greece, to Elefsina’s Patima area, west of Athens, has also been included in the Greek catalogue, following a request by DESFA, the gas grid operator.

RES investors pressured by increased project development cost

Investors behind solar energy projects still in development are facing budget pressure as a result of a steep rise in equipment costs, prompting talks of increased tariffs for non-auction projects.

Price increases, compared to early 2021, have reached 35 percent for solar panels, 75 percent for AC electricity cables, 35 percent for DC cables, 20 percent for low and medium-voltage sub-stations, while the cost of metal bases has also risen.

Data presented recently by SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, at a recent energy conference showed that the construction cost of a standard solar farm has increased by 15 to 20 percent, in line with figures presented by IEA, the International Energy Agency.

Wind energy projects face similar rises in cost, which has prompted the energy ministry to increase non-auction tariffs for new projects of up to 6 MW to 89 euros per MW/h from 72 euros per MW/h.

 

 

REPowerEU details unveiled, RES acceleration a key aspect

The European Commission has unveiled details of its REPowerEU plan, a road map intended to eliminate Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources.

Brussels’ road map will aim to eliminate Russian gas, oil and coal imports into the EU by 2027. The renewable energy sector is planned to play a key role in this effort. The European Commission has increased the RES sector’s energy-mix target to 45 percent, up from 40 percent, by 2030 and will seek to accelerate RES investments.

Solar energy utilization will be a pivotal factor of this strategy, to be promoted through the European Solar Rooftop Initiative, part of the REPowerEU plan.

The wider plan will push for an energy savings increase of 13 percent by 2030, up from the present objective aiming for a 9 percent increase in savings.

The European Commission estimates investments totaling 210 billion euros will need to be made by 2027, as an addition to the previous Fit for 55 plan, which set a target for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Brussels promoting energy savings, consumer support extension

The European Commission is expected to present a plan tomorrow including proposals for energy savings, an end to Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources, as well as support measures for consumers.

The consumer support measures could need to be extended for a longer period, stretching beyond June 30, 2022, according to the proposals.

A draft of the plan, obtained by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, notes that a reduction in energy demand as a result of a voluntary change in consumer habits, as well as through energy-efficiency fast-track measures, promises to lessen the shortage of Russian oil and gas should Moscow decide to disrupt supply to Europe.

For the short term, the Brussels proposals focus on cooling options concerning households as well as transportation choices, all voluntary. Reduced reliance on private vehicles, lower driving speeds, as well as avoidance of air-conditioning system usage in rooms not in use are among the proposals.

Emphasis is also placed on the use of solar energy at buildings, now more critical than ever before, the Brussels proposals note.

The European Commission’s proposals will be discussed at an EU summit on May 30 and 31 in an effort by leaders to reach common decisions.

 

 

Gov’t confident Brussels will approve wholesale market plan

Government officials are confident the administration’s two-pronged intervention plan for the wholesale and retail electricity markets will soon be approved by the European Commission, enabling implementation as of July 1, despite some reservations expressed over the past few days, government sources involved in the process have told energypress.

Athens’ plan was forwarded to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Directorate-General for Competition last Friday, following consultation on technical details between Greek government officials and Brussels.

Details of the Greek proposal are expected to be discussed over the next few days through a teleconference meeting involving technocrats , sourced noted.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas could also hold talks this week with the head officials of the Directorate-General for Energy and Directorate-General for Competition, to elevate the effort to a political level. A written response to the Greek plan from these Brussels bodies is believed to be imminent.

The Greek government is confident its energy-crisis plan will be approved by Brussels for two reasons. Firstly, Athens’ decision to eliminate, through a related tax, windfall profits earned by electricity producers during the energy crisis is one of the tools proposed by Brussels. Secondly, the Greek plan is not expected to affect transboundary trade as import-export prices will continue to be shaped by wholesale market forces.

 

Ministry to suspend wholesale adjustment clauses in bills

The government appears determined to push through with an energy ministry decision suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses included in retail electricity bills as of July 1 and for as long as measures – in both markets – are deemed necessary.

Even so, details of the plan remain unclear. The government aims to implement a new electricity price-adjusting mechanism on July 1. Its fundamentals involve setting a remuneration cap for electricity producers and reducing wholesale electricity price levels for suppliers.

There has been confusion as to whether the government will suspend or cancel existing wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses.

In comments to energypress, leading energy ministry officials supported that energy minister Kostas Skrekas plans to deliver a draft bill suspending wholesale electricity price adjustment clauses, while also introducing a wholesale price-cap mechanism.

These measures, however, will not necessarily keep tariffs steady. On the contrary, suppliers will, after informing customers, be able to adjust kilowatt hour prices based on their wholesale electricity purchase costs, it is understood.

 

RAE finalized windfall profit figures soon, producers react

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is examining objections and observations made by electricity producers in response to the authority’s report on sector windfall profits, headed for taxation.

The electricity producers, including vertically integrated energy groups with retail representation, have objected to details of a formula applied by the authority to determine excess profits during the ongoing energy crisis’ period between October, 2021 and March, 2022.

The producers, claiming the report’s findings are erroneous, want a series of additional factors to also be taken into account, including discounts offered to customers, losses incurred through fixed tariffs, as well as financial costs resulting from initiatives taken to boost cashflow.

Energy ministry Kostas Skrekas has asked RAE to take into account the factors raised by electricity producers before delivering a finalized windfall profit figure, expected imminently.

The government is preparing a legislative bill for a 90 percent tax on windfall profits once RAE has delivered its finalized figures, sources informed.

The RAE report has valued the total sum of windfall profits earned during the aforementioned six-month period at 927.44 million euros.

Power utility PPC holds the lion’s share of this amount, 729.91 million euros, while the independent players Mytilineos, Elpedison, Heron and RES producers active in the market are linked to the remaining amount.

 

 

 

Brussels crisis plan presented to EU leaders next week

The European Commission will present a short-term intervention plan for the electricity and natural gas markets at a council meeting of EU leaders next week, the validity of the measures to run through next winter, until May 1, 2023, according to sources.

It remains unclear if this set of measures, intended to subdue exorbitant energy prices, has been finalized or will undergo revisions.

The package is believed to contain new measures as well as older ones that have already been discussed at national and European level.

The plan includes an initiative for the establishment of an EU Energy Platform, whose aim will be to ensure energy supply at fair prices as well as greatly reduced, even eliminated, reliance on Russian natural gas.

EU member states will be given a specific period of time to regulate prices in the retail gas market. Emergency cash-flow measures offering relief to traders will also be made available.

Electricity market measures are expected to include taxation or regulation of excess earnings, energy price regulation in the retail market, as well as price regulation for small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

 

LNG order costs fall as much as 40% below TTF prices

The cost of LNG orders placed in recent days has fallen 10 to 40 percent below levels at the Dutch TTF exchange, driven lower by fine weather around Europe and subdued demand in Asia as a result of lockdown restrictions imposed over the past two months by authorities in China, insisting on a zero-Covid policy.

LNG price levels are also lower at the TTF exchange, easing to levels between 93.5 and 94 euros per MWh, the lowest since February.

Market pressure has also eased as a decision by Ukraine to disrupt a pipeline supplying Russian gas to Europe has had less negative impact than initially feared.

Ukraine’s decision, believed to have been taken to pressure the West for stricter sanctions against Russia, prompted Russia’s Gazprom to find a bypass solution through alternative routes to the EU.

These developments could lead to a significant reduction in wholesale electricity prices as a result of less price pressure faced by electricity producers.

The duration of China’s lockdown will greatly shape LNG market developments. For the time being, LNG orders that had been intended for China are being redirected to Europe.

Though supply to Asia has fallen considerably from high levels recorded just months ago, LNG demand typically increases in China, Japan and South Korea during summer.

 

Electricity market emergency plan presented to Brussels

Energy ministry officials will today present, for the first time, the government’s package of energy-crisis measures to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

Brussels’ approval of the package is needed despite the Greek government’s claims that the measures, intended to subdue energy market prices, are within the framework of the European Commission’s RePowerEU plan, also aiming to combat the crisis.

Although details of the Greek package are still in progress, its basics appear to have been finalized.

The day-ahead market, according to the plan, will continue to operate normally, and, as a result, electricity import and export prices will not be impacted. However, the clearing price formula will be revised so that each electricity production technology (lignite, natural gas, hydropower, renewables) is paid for output based on its respective variable cost plus a fair profit, rather than the system marginal price.

According to the plan, electricity suppliers will purchase energy from the domestic market at the lowest prices resulting from the new clearing price formula.

In addition, a wholesale price adjustment clause included in electricity bills will be suspended for the entire duration of emergency measures.

The government wants to avoid characterizing as a tax a plan intended to retroactively collect 90 percent of excess profits earned by electricity producers in recent months. If classified as a retroactive tax, the measure could end up being challenged in court if deemed to be unlawful.

With this danger in mind, the government is presenting its tax plan as a universal fee for solidarity contributions or solidarity dividends.

The government aims to implement its energy-crisis emergency plan by July 1. Swift progress in Athens’ negotiations with Brussels will be needed if this target date is to be achieved.

 

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.

Retail, wholesale measures for crisis’ new support package

The government’s latest energy-crisis support measures, whose fundamentals were announced yesterday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will take immediate effect, beginning with subsidies for consumption in May and June. Details are expected to be announced by government officials early today.

These subsidies, according to sources, will be combined with a price cap in the wholesale electricity market as of July, as negotiations with the European Commission are ongoing and Brussels approval is needed, as was the case with Spain and Portugal.

The new subsidies are expected to absorb approximately 50 percent of electricity cost increases for households, while, combined with July’s anticipated price cap in the wholesale market, the support package will absorb between 70 and 80 percent of energy cost increases for households, businesses and farmers, according to government calculations.

The support package for households will, as has been the case over the past few months, continue subsidizing up to 300 kilowatt hours per month, but subsidy levels will fall from 72 euros a month in April to a monthly level of between 55 and 60 euros, which, in terms of energy-cost increase absorption, works out to the same percentage as the average electricity price ended lower in April compared to the previous month.

Based on this reasoning, May and June subsidies for businesses will also be slightly lower than the level of 130 euros per MWh offered in April.

The new support package will also subsidize monthly consumption exceeding 300 KWh at a rate of 10 cents per KWh for all households, not just principle residencies, as was the case with previous packages.

The wholesale electricity market price cap to be implemented is expected to keep the average price at a level of approximately 100 euros per MWh.

 

Energy ministry officials in Sofia for EU’s first regional energy platform

A first regional taskforce for cooperation between EU member states on energy matters, as part of the EU’s Energy Purchase Platform, is scheduled to meet in Sofia tomorrow, as announced earlier this week by European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

The regional taskforce will concentrate on the year ahead and provide specific regional expertise and know-how to develop and implement the REPowerEU action plan to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels, fill storage ahead of next winter and further accelerate the decarbonization of the energy sector.

This meeting comes following Russia’s recent decision to disrupt natural gas supply to Bulgaria as well as Poland.

The Bulgarian government has also organized a coinciding meeting of regional ministers. Greece’s energy minister Kostas Skrekas (photo) and the ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou will participate.

The two Greek government officials will be visiting Sofia on the heels of yesterday’s official launch of work on the Alexandroupoli FSRU, an LNG terminal project intended to diversify the energy sources of Greece and the wider region. Yesterday’s official ceremony was attended by heads of state representing Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia.

During their visit to Sofia, the Greek energy ministry’s two officials are also expected to take part in a bilateral meeting with Bulgarian energy minister Alexander Nikolov.

This session’s agenda will examine the progress of the IGB gas pipeline, set to be completed and launched in July, and an electricity grid interconnection upgrade between the two countries, whose completion is expected by the end of this year.

The IGB gas pipeline, promising to contribute to the EU’s effort for drastically reduced dependency on Russian energy sources, will offer a second interconnection between Greece and Bulgaria, in addition to the nearby Sidirokastro link.

 

 

Gov’t planning more extensive energy-crisis support measures

Consumers are feeling increasingly disgruntled by exorbitant energy costs, turning into a political problem for the government, which is now aiming to intervene with measures that could offer protection and reasonable energy prices for as many households as possible.

The government has yet to decide on the details of its updated energy-crisis support plan for consumers but intends to implement measures absorbing nearly 80 percent of tariff increases resulting from a wholesale price adjustment clause included in electricity bills.

Government officials are still considering a number of approaches that could offer consumers energy-cost relief. These include a wholesale electricity market price cap, an increase in the current level of subsidies offered in the retail electricity market, or a combination of measures.

The breadth of the consumer protection measures, their financing, swiftness of implementation, obstacles and tools to be used to overcome these obstacles are key factors of the national plan.

Under the country’s current electricity subsidies program, limiting subsidies to monthly electricity consumption of up to 300 KWh, average-income households consuming big energy amounts and low-income households using electricity for heating have been left feeling exposed.

Over 1.5 million households around the country are believed to be unable to cope with current energy costs.

The cost of energy-crisis support measures offered so far is estimated at more than five billion euros, over a year. CO2 emission revenues, excess RES earnings injected into the Energy Transition Fund, the public service compensation account surplus, and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) have all been used to finance the support.

An additional one billion euros could be provided through the budget, along with any revenues that may result from a 90 percent tax on windfall profits in electricity production.

The government, it is believed, is preparing to offer a new, widespread solution budgeted at five billion euros over a one-year period. Its cost could be divided over the 2022 and 2023 budgets.

Government decisions are anticipated next week. Expectations for a European solution at the next summit of EU leaders, scheduled for May 30 and 31, are low.

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.

Spain, Portugal price cap agreement to guide Greek plan

Spain and Portugal’s agreement with the European Commission for the implementation of a temporary cap of 50 euros per MWh on reference prices for natural gas and coal used by power plants, effectively detaching wholesale electricity market prices from the cost of these generation sources, promises to serve as a guide for Greece’s negotiations with Brussels for intervention in the country’s wholesale electricity market.

Spain and Portugal had requested a temporary cap on reference prices of 30 euros per MWh, for one year.

The price of electricity in Spain and Portugal will be the same as that applicable for transactions with the rest of the EU, via France, El Pais reported.

The limited capacity of the Iberian Peninsula’s electricity grid interconnections with France will restrict electricity exports from Spain and Portugal. Otherwise, lower electricity prices resulting from the temporary cap would have prompted a sharp rise in electricity exports from Spain and Portugal.

Though the Greek government is on standby for a European price-cap solution to the energy crisis, Athens has already begun regulatory and legislative preparations for domestic market intervention.

Electricity, gas subsidies same for May, totaling nearly €600m

Electricity and gas subsidies covering household, professional and business consumption in May will most likely remain unchanged compared to the previous month, resulting in a support package worth a total of nearly 600 million euros.

The government is expected to officially announce its subsidy package for May within the next few days.

Wholesale electricity price levels have changed only slightly between March and April. The price level was over 242 euros per MWh from the beginning of April until yesterday, slightly below the level of 272.68 euros per MWh at the end of March.

Assuming energy subsidies will remain unchanged for consumption in May, households consuming up to 300 KWh in electricity can expect subsidy support, for the month, worth approximately 72 euros.

Professionals should receive subsidies worth 130 euros per MWh, while small and medium-sized businesses can expect subsidy support worth 230 euros per MWh for supply up to 25kVA.

Household natural gas subsidies should reach 40 euros per MWh.

 

Applications for installment-based electricity bill payments doubled

The number of electricity consumers applying for installment-based settlement of electricity bills has doubled over the past four months, market officials have informed.

Households are now needing to deal with electricity bills representing the late-winter period of what was a long winter. Low temperatures persisted throughout March, prompting high electricity consumption levels amid a market of exorbitant tariff levels.

Independent electricity suppliers are reported to be offering troubled consumers installment-based payback arrangements of between three to five monthly installments.

Power utility PPC is offering customers monthly installment payback plans over as many as 24 months, depending on the amount owed.

 

Four electricity price-reducing scenarios, EU decision pivotal

The government is considering four alternatives for its strategy to reduce electricity bill costs, but any decisions will be delayed until the European Commission has reached decisions at an EU level next month.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has noted measures will be taken in Greece if the EU does not implement a price ceiling on natural gas at the Dutch TTF exchange.

Though the government is aiming for a drastic reduction in electricity costs, to levels as low as pre-crisis prices, the measures to be implemented will need to take into account the country’s fiscal ability.

One of the four price-reducing strategies being looked at entails setting a maximum payment price, per MWh, for electricity producers, who would be compensated for any price differences through the budget.

Another measure involves setting different remuneration limits for the various electricity generation technologies (natural gas, lignite, renewables and hydropower).

A third consideration involves a combination of price ceilings and subsidies, while a fourth would significantly increase subsidies already being offered for electricity bills.

 

 

Unpaid receivables rising, prompting vicious cycle

The level of electricity bill unpaid receivables is rising as a growing number of households and businesses struggle to keep up with extremely higher energy costs, a detrimental factor for the cash flows of suppliers, who, in turn, are finding it increasingly difficult to relay regulated fees – included in electricity bills – to the market operators.

A growing number of consumers are lodging complaints to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, over exorbitantly priced electricity bills they are encountering.

The government’s electricity subsidies being offered to consumers as energy-crisis support appear to be insufficient.

The vicious circle of events is challenging the energy market as a whole. In an effort to ease the overall pressure, the government intends to ratify legislation for the implementation of a price ceiling in the wholesale electricity market, but not until the European Commission makes an announcement covering the EU, expected next month.

 

 

Gov’t plan aims for electricity prices at first-half ’21 average

The government will pursue a strategic target aiming to reduce retail electricity prices to the average level recorded in the first half of 2021, through the implementation of a price ceiling in the wholesale electricity market and state compensation packages for electricity producers covering the price difference.

However, it remains unclear how this ambitious measure, worth at least 4 billion euros amid the current conditions, will be financed.

The government’s plan will be carried out in coordination with any proposals that may be announced by the European Commission.

Announcements, by the Greek government, are not expected before May 18, when Brussels could deliver energy-crisis proposals for member states.

The price of natural gas in coming weeks, an unknown factor, adds risk to the government’s support plan. Gas prices could further escalate if Russian president Vladimir Putin decides to disrupt supply; if Russia’s war in Ukraine intensifies; or if any other unfavorable factor comes into play.

At present, a best-case scenario would result in a price tag of at least 4 billion euros for the Greek government’s strategic plan to reduce electricity prices.

Three different financing sources could be considered: the Energy Transition Fund, currently financing monthly energy subsidies; a 900 million-euro surplus from a supplementary budget submitted to parliament a fortnight ago; and Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) money.

 

 

Government in frantic search of €3-4bn for crisis measures

The government is frantically searching for solutions that would secure between 3 to 4 billion euros to compensate energy companies for planned price ceilings on wholesale energy prices.

Energy market conditions are adverse across the board. Consumers are struggling to meet costlier energy-bill payments, energy market companies and authorities fear an increase in unpaid receivables and its wider effects, while the government, seeing its approval rating fall by between half and one percentage point a month, is hoping for a European solution to the energy crisis, now exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

A European solution to the energy crisis does not seem anywhere near. French president Emmanuel Macron is currently stranded by the French elections, while German chancellor Olaf Scholz appears undecided. For the time being, at least, the Greek government will need to seek a solution through the national budget.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is under no pressure to end his war on Ukraine and stop his energy-sector blackmailing of the EU as long as European energy payments for Russian gas, oil and coal, totaling 600 million dollars a day, keep flowing into Russia.

At this stage, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal for a price ceiling at the TTF gas exchange appears to be the only promising solution, as this would strike at the root of the problem prompting exorbitant electricity prices around Europe.

Retail electricity market pressured, regulatory decisions crucial

The retail electricity market’s future shape very much depends on regulatory decisions and energy market policies that could be implemented, which, if unfavorable, could result in a greatly reduced number of suppliers, authorities have warned.

Suppliers are currently struggling as a result of cash flow issues prompted by delayed consumer payments and the pressure of meeting regulatory fee payments to operators.

Suppliers typically require capital amounts of between 60 and 70 million euros to purchase wholesale energy quantities and cover regulatory costs before receiving payments from consumers.

In comments offered at the recent Power and Gas Forum organized by energypress, Pantelis Biskas, professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, underlined the electricity market’s adverse conditions, brought about by the energy crisis and exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

These adverse conditions are seriously affecting supplier cash flows and could lead to a major contraction of retail electricity suppliers, depending on upcoming policies, the professor noted.