PM calls for European unity to counter impact of energy crisis

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called for the establishment of a single line of defense by the EU as protection against the impact on energy prices by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This proposed stance, expressed by Mitsotakis during a meeting in Bucharest yesterday with Romania’s leadership, as well as during an extraordinary summit of the European People’s Party, is expected to be reiterated at today’s emergency European Council meeting.

Europe must establish a common response to rising energy prices as a means of protecting consumers and businesses and limiting the continent’s exposure to gas price fluctuations, through a diversification of energy sources, the Greek Prime Minister supported during yesterday’s meetings.

According to sources, Mitsotakis will go into today’s European Council meeting with a specific proposal believed to entail utilization of the EU Emissions Trading System’s Market Stability Reserve that could lead to energy crisis support worth as much as 100 billion euros.

Last month, energy minister Kostas Skrekas presented a similar proposal at a meeting of EU energy ministers in France.

The Greek proposal could gain wider acceptance this time around given the grim forecasts of even higher energy costs.

Athens to discuss plan should Russian gas supply be cut

The Greek government is on high alert fearing the entry of Russian troops into two rebel-held regions in Ukraine’s east could disrupt Russian natural gas supplies to Europe and prompt energy insufficiencies, including in Greece.

In response to the development, energy minister Kostas Skrekas has been asked to attend an emergency meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), to be headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and present a detailed update on the strategy he could implement to avert a natural gas shortage in Greece should Russia disrupt its gas supply to Europe or the EU imposes economic sanctions on Russia, including its gas exports.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

The fundamentals of the Greek energy minister’s plan had been presented at a recent government meeting on February 14.

According to sources, the worst-case scenario would entail a disruption of Russian natural gas supply via the TurkStream pipeline, which supplies Bulgaria and then Greece.

In this event, Greece would need to utilize gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal, on the islet Revythoussa just off Athens, to its fullest, as well as the TAP pipeline supplying natural gas from Azerbaijan.

The Revythoussa LNG terminal is currently filled to capacity and would remain so with two shipments each month for as long as the Ukraine crisis continues, sources have informed.

However, the big question for Greece, and Europe as a whole, is whether LNG shipments will be available, and at what price.

Milder weather conditions, resulting in less gas consumption, would help ease the pressure on grids throughout Europe.

Bids for Volterra in March, company continuing RES development

Prospective bidders for the partial or full sale of energy company Volterra, a subsidiary of the AVAX construction group, have been informed to prepare for binding bids within March, according to an update delivered by a major consulting firm commissioned by AVAX for the sale procedure.

This information emerged during a series of meetings staged last week by energy minister Kostas Skrekas and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, with the country’s energy suppliers, behind in their relay of energy-bill surcharge amounts to market operators and municipalities.

In accordance with standard company policy, AVAX always considers every possible option, depending on market conditions and its broader strategy, in order to to best utilize its assets and stakes, the construction group has announced.

Besides its activity in the retail energy market, Volterra is also continuing to develop its investment plan in renewables, a sector in which the company holds a strong RES portfolio with a capacity of 285 MW, comprising ten projects at various stages of maturity.

Authority working on retail electricity market monitoring tool, expected April

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is developing a market monitoring tool for the retail electricity market, to enable more effective monitoring of actions by suppliers.

According to sources, this mechanism, to monitor the pricing policies of electricity suppliers, including their discount policies, as well as clause activation, should be ready by April.

RAE officials informed energy minister Kostas Skrekas, at a recent meeting, on the details and progress of the retail market monitoring tool currently being developed.

During the session, the RAE officials also updated the energy minister on the wholesale electricity market’s course, basing their findings on a monitoring tool designed for the wholesale market.

According to sources, no attempts, by producers, at market manipulation or other distortions have been identified to date. The reports presented to the minister covered the month of January.

Number of households without electricity now down to 1,000

The number of households still without electricity following a heavy snowstorm earlier in the week has been narrowed down to less than 1,000, according to a latest update from energy minister Kostas Skrekas in a television interview.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s response to network damages, mostly in the wider Athens area’s northeastern section, has been far more effective than the effort made last winter to fix extensive damages following a heavy snowstorm, the energy minister told Antenna TV.

Households without electricity are now down to less than 1,000 from 200,000 on Monday, the minister noted, acknowledging the problems people have needed to persevere, while adding that all issues should be entirely resolved by midday today.

Coordination between DEDDIE/HEDNO and municipalities has been effective, which helped resolve 95 percent of issues over a 48-hour period, the minister noted.

‘Second recovery fund for green investments around the country’

Funds worth 16 billion euros are being made available for green development and climate change action from the recovery fund and the National Strategic Reference Framework until 2027, while a further 5 billion euros is expected to be added to the effort from the island decarbonization fund and the modernization fund, all of which essentially creates a second recovery fund for green investments throughout the country, energy minister Kostas Skrekas has noted in an energypress new year feature.

In his appraisal of 2021, the minister noted that the government responded to challenges, as much as is possible amid highly destabilized international conditions, faster and more efficiently than Europe’s bigger economies.

“We have established a solid foundation for a sustainable future, with strong growth potential. We have created unparalleled impetus for green investments, which we expect to exceed 44 billion by 2030, creating 150,000 new jobs,” the minister noted, adding that, in the face of the international energy crisis and its price surge, the government’s support measures for consumers will exceed 1.3 billion euros in 2021.

Results of push for improved Russian gas deal seen today

A meeting today in Sochi between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with Russian President Vladimir Putin – their first as heads of state – will made clear if preceding negotiations between officials of the two countries have come to anything for an improved Gazprom gas supply contract for Greek gas utility DEPA in 2022.

Any improvement for DEPA is regarded as a challenging task and would represent a major surprise if pulled off, given the unfavorable conditions, internationally.

The Greek Prime Minister is seeking an improved gas supply deal from Russia, the country’s main supplier, in an effort to boost support offered to Greek households and industry, struggling in the energy crisis, through further energy cost discounts.

Russia currently supplies 45 percent of natural gas consumed in Greece as well as nearly 10 percent of the country’s crude oil.

DEPA’s agreement with Russia’s Gazprom Export, its main supplier, expires in 2026 but is subject to annual talks concerning pricing formula and take-or-play clause revisions.

The Russian side has pushed for the 2022 agreement with DEPA to be fully indexed to the Dutch TTF gas index, but this index has risen 500 percent since last year, prompting Greek officials to resist.

According to energypress sources, Russia has maintained a tough stance in its negotiations with Greek officials, as was highlighted at a meeting yesterday in Saint Petersburg between Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas and Gazprom’s chief executive Alexey Miller over the pricing formula to apply for Russian gas supply to Greece in 2022.

Greek officials want to avoid a DEPA-Gazprom agreement that is fully indexed to the Dutch TTF gas index and are believed to be aiming for a TTF pricing coefficient of between 60 and 70 percent, which would enable an oil-indexed price for the other 30 to 40 percent.

Crucial Gazprom pricing formula talks in St. Petersburg

Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas is scheduled to meet Russian gas company Gazprom’s chief executive Alexey Miller in Saint Petersburg today for crucial talks over the pricing formula to apply for Russian gas supply to Greece in 2022.

Russia currently supplies 45 percent of natural gas consumed in Greece as well as nearly 10 percent of the country’s crude oil, making today’s talks pivotal for the competitiveness of Greek industry and living standards of households amid the energy crisis.

Gazprom, aiming to capitalize on the sharp rise in natural gas prices, wants the pricing formula to be fully indexed with the Dutch TTF gas hub index, which the Greek side says it cannot accept, according to comments offered by a senior official to energypress.

Greek gas utility DEPA’s agreement with Gazprom is currently entirely oil-indexed. The two sides had agreed to an extraordinary revision for 2020 and 2021 indexing prices with the TTF gas index as oil prices were considerably higher. The opposite is now the case, with LNG prices well above oil prices in recent months. Gazprom officials now prefer prices to not be fully indexed to oil.

DEPA’s pending agreement with Russia’s Gazprom Export, its main supplier, expires in 2026 but is subject to annual talks concerning pricing formula and take-or-play clause revisions.

Industry may be spared of public service compensation cost

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has, for the first time, in public comments, left open the possibility of industrial enterprises being spared of paying public service compensation (YKO) amounts for a five-month period covering November to March, as part of an effort to reduce industrial energy costs.

“We will assess the public service compensation account’s revenues and, if deemed necessary following the five-month period, will gradually impose these charges,” the minister noted at an event focused on industrial energy cost.

Speaking at the same event, Giorgos Xirogiannis, deputy general manager of SEV, the Hellenic Association of Industrialists, underlined the problems faced by industrial producers as a result of the sharp rise in energy costs.

Greek industry is currently 20 to 30 percent less competitive than European industrial enterprises, the SEV deputy noted.

He raised a series of energy cost-related issues that need to be addressed, including the YKO surcharge added to electricity costs, distribution costs and energy taxes.

Investments in renewable energy infrastructure and networks need to be accelerated in coming years for the achievement of a favorable energy mix balance, the SEV official added.

Also, the impact on the cost of energy of the EU’s “Fit for 55” package, aiming for a 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, needs to be discussed, the SEV deputy added.

 

Grid priority for units functioning purely as energy storage stations

Revisions enabling grid connection priority only for facilities functioning purely as energy storage stations dominated the legislative revisions presented by energy minister Kostas Skrekas at a cabinet meeting yesterday.

The minister left aside matters concerning RES licensing simplification, pumped storage stations and other energy-storage forms.

RES units combining energy storage facilities will be regarded as RES units and not be given grid connection priority, according to the draft bill.

Brussels hesitant on hedging mechanism for energy prices

A Greek proposal for the EU’s adoption of a temporary hedging mechanism as a means of easing the burden of sharply risen energy costs on consumers, to be tabled at a Eurogroup meeting of EU finance ministers today, will be met with hesitancy as the European Commission would not want to bring to the negotiating table issues linked to the Emissions Trading System, fearing any potential need of a compromise with member states opposed to the ETS, such as Poland, well-informed sources anticipate.

The European Commission has fought hard to establish the ETS as a means of combating climate change.

The temporary hedging mechanism would draw funds from the Emissions Trading System’s auctions of CO2 emission rights.

The hedging mechanism was proposed several weeks ago by Greek energy minister Konstantinos Skrekas and will be officially presented by Greek finance minister Hristos Staikouras to his European counterparts at today’s Eurogroup meeting.

The EU finance ministers will be focusing on the alarming increase in energy prices, prompted by a combination of international factors, though finalized decisions at this session are considered unlikely.

Minister calls for swifter Brussels support on new RES auctions plan

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas has requested swifter support from the European Commission, in the form of a comfort letter, on a plan concerning Greece’s new RES auctions, as well as auctions for the installation of hybrid stations on islands.

The minister made the request to European Commission deputy Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, during an online meeting between the two officials on Friday.

During the session, Vestager is believed to have expressed satisfaction over Athens’ implementation of a plan offering third parties access to state-controlled power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power production, an issue that had remained unresolved for many years.

PPC sold a first electricity package at a discount price on Friday, as part of the government’s agreement with the European Commission.

Greece’s energy minister also urged for efficient cooperation with the Directorate General for Competition on an ongoing effort aiming for the introduction, by the end of the year, of a Strategic Reserve mechanism.

The mechanism is planned to compensate PPC for its maintenance, as grid back-up, of lignite-fired power stations headed for withdrawal. The availability of these units is still needed to ensure grid sufficiency and stability.

 

 

Independent suppliers react to gov’t handling of subsidy plan

Independent electricity suppliers, especially the non-vertically integrated, have expressed strong disapproval of the manner in which the government presented a subsidy plan aiming to offer energy-cost relief to consumers, noting the presentation of the measures offered promotional support to state-controlled power utility PPC, the market’s dominant supplier.

The complaints, which focused on the subsidy plan’s presentation, not the actual measure, were expressed at a meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and representatives of the country’s electricity suppliers.

During the government’s presentation of subsidies to be offered to counter rising electricity costs – wholesale and retail – pushed up by a combination of unfavorable factors in international markets, attention was also placed on an additional discount to be offered by PPC, to supplement the subsidies.

Independent suppliers perceived this latter detail as inappropriate market intervention by the government and an effort to give PPC a competitive edge over rival suppliers.

At the meeting, the energy minister called upon electricity suppliers to contribute to the energy-cost containment effort by utilizing the subsidy plan and offering discounts. Independent suppliers stressed they are currently operating with the slightest of profit margins.

The subsidies, to offer suppliers 30 euros per MWh, will be distributed by November, the minister informed.

Vertically integrated independent suppliers, which now have a clearer picture on PPC’s latest pricing policy, have already begun shaping strategies of their own, sources informed.

 

 

 

Independent players set to offer discounts, awaiting PPC clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Energy minister calls emergency meeting, heatwave set to peak

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas is due to visit power grid operator IPTO’s control center in Athens today for an emergency meeting he has ordered to deal with grid sufficiency issues raised by the prolonged heatwave conditions, expected to become even more acute during the week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will participate in the emergency meeting along with the head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and power utility PPC.

The grid is expected to face unprecedented conditions in coming days as electricity demand peaks to reach record levels, prompted by the extreme weather conditions.

The energy ministry has already urged the public to exercise restraint in electricity consumption over the next few days as a means of helping the pressured grid cope with the heatwave’s demands.

The energy minister also staged an emergency meeting yesterday morning with officials of the aforementioned energy sector companies.

Electricity demand today is expected to peak at 9,600 MW, at around 9pm, well over the average peak of 8,115 MW in the first half of 2021.

Suppliers unimpressed by plan ending PPC lignite monopoly

Independent electricity suppliers have remained unimpressed by measures taken to end stare-controlled power utility PPC’s exclusive access to lignite, noting resulting lignite-generated electricity amounts offered to third parties are too small to bring about changes to competition.

The country’s independent suppliers had until yesterday to respond to a 15-question questionnaire forwarded by the European Commission as part of a market test on the effectiveness of the measures, recently agreed on between Brussels and new energy minister Kostas Skrekas.

Certain respondents explained that low-priced lignite electricity purchases, even at levels well below day-ahead market price levels, would not offer benefits as they cannot offset extremely higher wholesale electricity prices, pushed up by increased balancing market costs.

Some of the vertically integrated suppliers, not facing problems by the wholesale price shifts, noted the measures would end the prospects of a futures market operating at the energy exchange any time soon.

PM to visit stalled Mesohora dam project, completion ‘near’

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his energy minister Kostas Skrekas are scheduled to visit power utility PPC’s slow-moving Mesohora hydropower project in west Thessaly on Saturday as part of a wider visit to the area, for an update on its progress.

The Mesohora dam, along with the E 65 highway project in central Greece, will be the main topics of discussion at meetings, a few hours later in Trikala, between the PM, energy minister and regional authorities.

The Mesohora dam, close to completion since 2001, has been delayed by a series of setbacks, including, most recently, November’s nullification of the project’s environmental terms by the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court.

PPC is being deprived of revenue worth 30 million euros annually as a result of the project’s delay.

Efforts now being made to put the project’s completion back on track include PPC’s ongoing preparation of a new environmental impact study, which should pave the way for the dam’s new environmental terms.

The project’s new environmental license could be a swift procedure, enabling a restart of work for completion and trial tests of the new dam by the end of 2023, according to the most optimistic of forecasts.

The Mesohora hydropower facility, an investment exceeding 400 million euros, is designed to have a 160-MW capacity and produce eco-friendly electricity amounts of 360 GWh, annually.

Excessive cost, for PPC, of running lignite-fired units hastening exit plan

The financial burden on power utility PPC as a result of its continued use of lignite-fired power stations at a time when the EU is racing towards climate neutrality has prompted the utility to revise its lignite unit phase-out plan for power stations in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese.

According to latest information, PPC’s administration is planning further premature withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations after announcing a precipitated exit of its Megalopoli III unit, as was reported by energypress yesterday.

The Megalopoli III unit will be shut down six months sooner, in mid-2021, instead of early 2022. This 250-MW lignite-fired facility has operated for just six hours since April.

The average variable cost of lignite-based energy generation is €0.80 per MWh, well over the System Marginal Price of €0.45 per MWh, according to data presented by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

According to some sources, PPC has once again raised, to the European Commission, a compensation claim for being required to keep operating high-cost power stations in order to secure grid sufficiency and security.

PPC will be forced to proceed with swifter lignite unit exits if this compensation request is not satisfied, pundits said.

Power grid operator IPTO has the final say on the assessment of energy security matters.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations covered just 36.8 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand in the first half, its lignite units playing a diminished role.

 

New leadership at hydrocarbon management company EDEY

The Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company (EDEY), an independent company owned by the Hellenic Republic that oversees and manages the nation’s oil & gas exploration & production, investor relations and a growing portfolio of international energy infrastructure projects, has announced the appointment of a new chairman of the board of directors and a new chief executive. 

The appointments by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, follow the nomination by Greece’s energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and endorsement by the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency of the Hellenic Parliament.

In a statement, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Costis Hatzidakis, noted that the appointments “mark a new chapter for the company, which now has an expanded role following the absorption of a number of International trans-boundary gas pipeline projects, such as the Greek-Bulgarian (IGB) pipeline, IGI Poseidon and East Med – projects supported by inter-governmental agreements between several countries in the Mediterranean region that will strengthen European security of supply as well as Greece’s role as a protagonist nexus in some of the region’s most important strategic developments.” 

The newly appointed chairman, Rikard Scoufias, who joins the company in a non-executive capacity from a distinguished energy and extractives career in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, commented: “This is an important moment in the history of EDEY. Strong corporate governance, especially environmental and social governance (ESG), is in unprecedented focus, nowhere more so than the energy and extractive sectors. It is a privilege to be asked to lead such an eminent board of directors, with distinguished careers from Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark and the United Kingdom, and we all look forward to work closely with the executive team and to guide the company into this new chapter of growth and continued success.”  

Aristofanis Stefatos, EDEY’s newly appointed CEO, who returns to Greece following a successful executive career in Norway’s oil and gas industry, where he served as COO, CEO and in non-executive roles noted: “Τhe opportunities that hydrocarbon exploration and production offer Greece are significant. By securing these opportunities today, we position the country for the widest possible strategic choices for the future – including the delivery of Greece’s committed plans for alternative energies and long-term decarbonization. We will achieve this ensuring that EDEY is widely recognized as an efficient, transparent and dedicated partner to investors and all stakeholders, whilst at the same time holding those partners to the highest international environmental and social standards.” 

‘Energy ministry policies crucial in effort to revitalize economy’

The energy ministry’s policies promise to play a pivotal role in the challenge faced by the government to revitalize the national economy following lockdown, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has noted in an article featuring in GREEK ENERGY 2020, the energypress team’s latest annual publication covering the Greek energy sector.

Action is already being taken by the ministry through a decisive energy-sector agenda that aims for growth and is fully aligned with the European Green Deal, now a key economic growth tool throughout Europe, the minister notes.

New financial tools such as an EU recovery fund, worth 750 billion euros, according to a European Commission proposal, are designed to help the EU achieve its goal of transition towards a zero-emission economy through support for the gradual elimination of fossil-fuel dependence, RES growth and energy savings, the minister writes.

Greece is ready to make the most of this EU support package, effectively an additional NSRF funding program for the country promising capital worth around 32 billion euros, in order to achieve sustainable green-energy growth, according to Hatzidakis.

Besides decarbonization and RES development, other aspects incorporated into the energy ministry’s wider plan include:  electromobility growth; a third Saving at Home subsidy program for domestic energy-efficiency upgrades; reforms for greater competition, transparency and more attractive price offers in the energy market; reduced industrial energy costs; and energy-sector privatizations, the minister notes.

 

August launch of target model not possible, pundits insist

A launch of spot markets at the Greek energy exchange is not possible until September, well-informed market officials insist, rejecting recent claims by power grid operator IPTO deputy chief Yiannis Margaris of an earlier target model start within August.

The energy ministry is currently coordinating with IPTO, the Hellenic Energy Exchange (HENEX) and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for clarity as to when the launch of the target model’s energy exchange markets is feasible.

A June 30 launch date will inevitably be missed, a key problem behind the delay being the absence of a specific date for the delivery of a balancing market platform to IPTO by General Electric, commissioned this project.

A GE team that was stationed in Athens for this project left the country without notice, citing the possibility of greater pandemic danger ahead, in reaction to its outbreak. This has delayed the delivery of the platform.

IPTO is now closely coordinating with GE for a specific delivery date, following the relaxation of lockdown measures.

Trial runs of all market systems linking IPTO, HENEX and EnexClear were scheduled to begin April 10. Dry-run testing, or continual simulation, of market systems was scheduled for May 15, ahead of the June 30 launch date for the target model’s day-ahead, intraday and balancing market launches, now all out of the question.

 

 

‘Firm steps for privatizations but pandemic’s impact considered’

Decisive steps are being taken for Greece’s energy-sector privatizations, representing two thirds of the country’s overall privatization program, but the pandemic’s impact on international markets will not be neglected, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily To Ethnos.

There is no need to rush a plan to reduce the Greek State’s stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) as this sale is not one of restructuring character, the minister noted.

A government decision to sell stakes in DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade, two new entities emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, is moving ahead as planned, Hatzidakis informed.

First steps have been taken to reduce, below 51 percent, the Greek State’s share in power grid operator IPTO, “but this does not mean we will proceed tomorrow morning,” he said.

State-controlled power utility PPC is preparing terms of an international tender for the sale of at least 49 percent of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, the minister said. This procedure is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year, he added.

Suppliers dread bad debt of permanent business closures

Electricity and gas suppliers, fearing a new wave of bad debt that could balloon should retailers and enterprises currently in lockdown fail to reopen, have expressed their concerns to deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas in a virtual conference.

Consumers of all categories, including households, have increasingly struggled to pay their energy bills during the coronavirus pandemic. Overdue energy bills have increased by levels ranging from 20 to 35 percent, according to data forwarded by suppliers to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, and the energy ministry.

Besides fearing an eventual financial collapse of many retailers and businesses amid a protracted lockdown, authorities suspect some survivors could opt to relaunch their businesses under new tax file numbers in an effort to escape accumulated energy bill debt obligations.

The energy ministry is now seeking to establish a clearer picture on the energy bill collection records of suppliers as a means of shaping appropriate cash flow support measures.

A ministerial decision offsetting debt between energy suppliers and market operators will soon be signed, Thomas, the deputy energy minister, informed.

Energy Min Hatzidakis: The effort is in May to be able to return to normality

The government is gearing its efforts toward a return to normality in May but no guarantees can be given, stated Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis speaking to SKAI TV on Tuesday.
“The return to normality can’t be done thoughtlessly or just because we want it but will depend on the implementation of the measures and on the data,” he explained.
“We made this effort with so much discipline that nobody would have believed it so why should we ease off now? We will continue to listen to the scientists as we have done up until now,” he added.
Referring to the measures to support businesses and workers, Hatzidakis underlined that these were above the EU average, adding that the government’s aim to “save its strength” for next October and November, because the virus may return.
Asked about the “corona-bonds”, he said that the discussion is not over yet and that there are voices in this direction even within Germany. “It is  not only a matter of solidarity but it is in their own interests, because if the South collapses they won’t have any place to export to,” he said.

(ANA-MPA)

Energy suppliers to receive Development Bank support

Electricity and gas supply firms, pressured by the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, are among the country’s enterprises to be offered liquidity support by a prospective Development Bank that will operate as a guarantee fund.

The Ministry of Development and Investment intends to soon establish this new bank using EU National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds.

Talks are in progress for the establishment of a “guarantee mechanism, for electricity companies, providing working capital,” energy minister Costis Hatzidakis noted just days ago.

The plan was also discussed at a meeting between Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, CEOs of Greek banks and the secretary-general of the Hellenic Bank Association.

The bank association is now expected to submit its observations on the plan’s draft law. According to the plan, Greek State guarantees will cover 80 percent of each loan granted, while banks will cover the remaining 20 percent.

Energy deputy presenting NECP in Brussels, Paris, NYC

The country’s newly unveiled National Energy and Climate Plan will also be presented in Brussels today by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas at the council of EU energy ministers, the first stop in a series of presentations abroad.

Over the next few days, Thomas will also be taking the plan to Paris and New York for official presentations.

In Brussels, today, the Greek energy deputy will present the NECP’s ambitious targets to peers and intends to highlight that many of these goals will seek to exceed the expectations of the new European Commission.

The initial response to the NECP’s objectives, by Brussels and investors, has been extremely encouraging. The Greek plan is seen as far more ambitious than those of many other EU member states.

All EU member states will be presenting the key aspects of their respective NECPs at today’s council meeting.

The European Commission will then determine whether proposals made by Brussels last June have been adopted by member states for their NECPs, all revised.

The Greek energy deputy’s Paris sessions, later this week, include an International Energy Agency (IEA) event on the climate.

In New York, Thomas is scheduled to attend an annual Capital Link forum on Monday, whose latest edition is focused on Greece, for contact with investors, major investment banks and energy sector experts closely monitoring the Greek market’s developments.

Besides Thomas, a host of other Greek ministers and deputies, as well as leading officials of the country’s four main banks, are expected to participate at the New York event, titled “21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum – Greece is Back”.

 

SGCC wants relaxation of bailout hiring limits at IPTO

State Grid International Development, a member of the corporate group State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), has sent a clear message to the Greek government calling for a relaxation of recruitment terms at power grid operator IPTO, in which the Chinese company is a strategic partner with a 24 percent stake, noting current hiring restrictions, resulting from a related bailout term imposed on public utilities, increase this investment’s risk and affect its growth prospects.

The Chinese investor wants IPTO included in a draft bill relaxing recruitment terms for the power utility PPC and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

The request was expressed through a letter signed by State Grid International Development chief official Hu Yuhai and received by Energy Minister Costis Hatzidakis, his deputy Gerassimos Thomas, as well as Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos, according to energypress sources.

The issue had been brought to the attention of the previous Greek government several months before its legislative election defeat in July, the Chinese investor reiterated.

“We consider the situation incomprehensible and somewhat unreasonable when a company the size of IPTO, with support from the strategic investor, is not given the opportunity to select and remunerate its staff in accordance with its rules, serving its interests,” the Chinese firm noted in its letter.

SGCC’s investment and IPTO’s growth prospects will be placed under a state of uncertainty if the Greek power grid operator is not included in the revisions planned for PPC and DEDDIE/HEDNO, the Chinese investor warned, promising fair and transparent recruitment procedures if the restrictions are lifted.

 

PPC voluntary exit plan may push for up to 5,000 retirees

Though the details of power utility PPC’s voluntary exit plan are still being worked on, the plan could push for the withdrawal of as many as 5,000 employees of various qualifications, divisions and levels, according to sources.

An exodus of such a number of employees, representing roughly 30 percent of PPC’s workforce, will obviously cost the power utility a considerable amount.

If this target figure is to succeed, the incentives for employees will need to be far more generous than those offered in an exit plan last year. Severance pay of 15,000 euros plus a 5,000-euro bonus prompted 220 voluntary exits.

A voluntary exit plan outlined last week by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis – it includes employees five years or less away from the retirement age of 60 and  covers all their social security fund commitments until pension eligibility is reached, plus severance pay – is expected to cost at least 100,000 euros per employee, according to more reserved union estimates.

Some 4,000 PPC employees are currently already eligible for pensions. A total of 16,747 employees were on the power utility’s payrolls at the end of 2018.