Prinos field rescue effort now at the finance ministry

A government effort to rescue offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing field, in the north, is now in the hands of the finance ministry following preceding work at the energy ministry, sources have informed.

The field, like the wider upstream industry, has been impacted by the pandemic and plunge in oil prices.

Deputy finance minister Theodoros Skylakakis is now handling the Prinos rescue case following the transfer of a related file from the energy ministry.

According to the sources, three scenarios are being considered. A financing plan through a loan with Greek State guarantees appears to be the top priority. A second option entails the utilization of an alternate form of state aid. The other consideration involves the Greek State’s equity participation in the Prinos field’s license holder, Energean Oil & Gas.

The European Commission will need to offer its approval to any of these options as they all represent forms of state aid.

Energy ministry sources have avoided offering details but are confident a solution is in the making.

Ministry OKs environmental study for blocks south of Crete

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has approved a strategic environmental impact study concerning an offshore area south of Crete in preparation for tenders to offer exploration and production licenses for two blocks covering most of the island’s width.

Giannis Basias, the former head official at EDEY, the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company, went ahead with the strategic environmental impact study last August to clear the way for government authorities to stage tenders for licenses and also spare  winning bidders of needing to wait for pending issues to be resolved before they can begin their exploration efforts.

In addition, it is believed EDEY took swift action for the environmental impact study covering the offshore area south of Crete in response to interest expressed by oil majors.

The two offshore blocks south of Crete measure a total of 33,933 square kilometers and cover all four prefectures spread across the island.

These vacant blocks are situated next to two blocks southwest and west of Crete that have already been licensed out to a three-member consortium headed by Total with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum as partners.

The eastern flank of these two blocks is intruded by a corridor defined in a recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.

The Greek energy ministry’s approval of the strategic environmental impact study for south of Crete is not linked to Turkey’s heightened provocations in the Aegean Sea, ministry officials told energypress.

The environmental study’s approval means this offshore area is now set for tenders and also sends out a signal of readiness to the international upstream industry, the ministry officials explained.

Just days ago, the newly appointed EDEY administration and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou met with officials of Total, operator of the consortium holding the two licenses southwest and west of Crete. Seismic surveys for these blocks will be completed by March next year, the Total officials appear to have promised.

First demand response auction in July, TFRM validity to get extra month

The energy ministry, anticipating the European Commission’s imminent approval of Greek government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), has signed related ministerial decisions so that the mechanisms, vital tools for industrial energy costs, can be implemented immediately once Brussels has given the green light.

Official approval of the plans by the European Commission is expected within the next few days.

Power grid operator IPTO has been informed by the ministry so that it can prepare the first demand response auction, seen taking place within July. IPTO announced a registration procedure yesterday, setting a July 23 deadline for applicants.

The TFRM’s validity is expected to run for an additional month, compared to the initial term agreed to by Athens and Brussels, to make up for its delayed delivery.

Over the past few days, Greek authorities have needed to respond to numerous questions forwarded by Brussels officials, seeking explanations and clarification on both the demand response and flexibility mechanisms.

 

Suppliers resort to legal action against RAE over price clauses

Electricity suppliers may have adjusted price-related clauses included in their electricity bills following a request by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, seeking greater price-comparing clarity for consumers, but some of these suppliers, who consider the authority’s initiative to be an intrusion into corporate pricing policy matters, have chosen to take legal action against the authority.

RAE had asked for a standardized adjustment from electricity suppliers by June 14, but they responded with loose individual interpretations of the guidelines before many resorted to legal action.

When forwarding its clause-adjustment request to suppliers, RAE also asked the energy ministry to adopt its guidelines for official incorporation into the electricity market’s regulations.

According to sources, the energy ministry does not intend to adopt RAE’s recommendations and, instead, has asked the authority to reconsider its guidelines.

Electricity suppliers include clauses in their supply agreements with consumers that enable price revisions to cover cost increases.

Many consumers have complained about the price-related clauses, noting they are included in fine print and confusing.

 

 

Electric cars subsidy fund soon, recharge unit support to follow

The energy ministry is working on launching a subsidy program supporting electric car and bicycle purchases, 11,700 in total, by the end of this month, ministry officials have informed.

A related draft bill is scheduled to be discussed by parliamentary committees over the next few days ahead of its ratification and a required ministerial decision for the subsidy package.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, spearheading the government’s electromobility effort, intends to also seek funding through the EU’s recovery fund, when this fund is made available, to put together an equivalent subsidy support program for the development of recharging facilities.

The electromobility subsidy package, worth 100 million euros, will remain available until the end of the year. It will offer support to individuals and companies for the purchase of 1,700 electric cars, 3,000 electric bikes (1,500 bicycles and 1,500 scooters), 1,000 electric or hybrid taxis and 6,000 company cars.

Interested parties will need to submit applications to the effort’s online platform, Kinoumai Ilektrika, to be launched once the draft bill is ratified.

The program will also offer bonus payments for withdrawals of older vehicles.

 

Ministry awaiting Brussels nod for demand response, TFRM

The energy ministry, anticipating the European Commission’s approval of Greek government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), has decided to sign related ministerial decisions, possibly even today, so that the mechanisms can be immediately implemented once Brussels has given the green light.

Though the two sides have come closer on the mechanisms, it still remains unclear when the European Commission will go ahead with its approval.

Over the past few days, government officials have needed to respond to a series of questions from Brussels, seeking explanations and clarification on details concerning both mechanism plans.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition is treating both mechanism proposals as one package.

Domestic energy-intensive industries are urgently awaiting the package’s approval in the hope that Greek power grid operator IPTO can stage a demand response auction before July is out.

Under terms agreed to so far, IPTO will be permitted to offer up to 800 MW through demand response auctions, down from 1,030 MW allowed through the preceding plan.

Also, the demand response mechanism will be made accessible to a greater number of companies, including smaller players, through a reduction of a consumption lower limit.

In addition, the demand response mechanism is expected to be valid for a one-year period, not two years, as was requested by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

The TFRM is expected to be divided into two stages, the first running until the launch of target model markets, scheduled for September 17, under the same terms that applied for a mechanism that expired in March, 2019.

The TFRM’s second stage is seen running from the launch of the target model until a permanent flexibility mechanism is introduced. Its capacity is expected to be drastically reduced to 750 MW from 4,500 MW. Remuneration levels are also expected to drop.

 

Ministry, responding to Syriza MPs, lists reasons for further sale of IPTO

A government decision to further privatize power grid operator IPTO is linked to the EU’s objective for carbon neutrality by 2050 as well as a national decarbonization target by 2028, efforts requiring big investments for greater emphasis on new and innovative technologies and systems; an upgrade of existing networks as smart networks; as well as the development of new business models, the energy ministry has noted in response to recent questioning, in Greek Parliament, by MPs of the main opposition leftist Syriza party.

Also, swift development of electricity transmission networks promises to significantly contribute to a speedy recovery of the pandemic-hit national economy, the ministry noted.

In addition, the sale of an additional stake in IPTO is a pre-election pledge made by the New Democracy party, the ministry response reminded. ND was elected into power one year ago.

IPTO’s initial privatization, shaped and carried out by the previous Syriza government, is unusual as the Greek State may have maintained a majority 51 percent stake but its powers for strategic decision-making are limited and require the approval of the minority partner, China’s SGCC, holding a 24 percent stake, the energy ministry pointed out.

SGCC has been given the right to block strategic decisions at IPTO and priority rights in any further privatization of the power grid operator.

DEPA Commerce 5-year business plan includes turn to RES sector

Gas company DEPA Commerce’s five-year business plan for 2020-2024, containing investments estimated at 200 million euros, aspires to broaden the company’s interests by also incorporating renewable energy projects totaling 200 MW, either through independent development or acquisitions of mature plans.

Privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry are expected to approve the DEPA Commerce business plan within July.

DEPA Commerce was formed by gas utility DEPA as a new entity for its privatization procedure.

Besides RES projects, the DEPA Commerce business plan also includes hydrogen and biomethane projects, as well as electromobility initiatives.

The company’s expansion of business activities is expected to lead to greatly increased EBITDA and profit figures.

Once finalized and approved, the DEPA Commerce five-year business plan will be included in the due diligence package for prospective bidders.

Pumped-storage project support plan delivered to Brussels

The energy ministry has delivered to the European Commission, for approval, a special support framework proposal concerning a 680-MW pumped-storage hydroelectricity project planned by GEK TERNA in Amfilohia, western Greece.

The project has been on the EU’s list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) since 2012, while its studies have received Juncker Plan financing.

The total budget of the project, planned to generate 816 GWh annually, is expected to exceed 500 million euros.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity allows energy from intermittent sources, such as solar, wind and other renewables, or excess electricity from continuous base-load sources, including coal, to be saved for periods of higher demand.

Also, pumped-storage hydroelectricity is a technology that promises major  support for domestic value-added sectors as its investments concurrently create thousands of jobs, boost public revenue, tax collections and social security fund contributions, besides resolving energy issues.

Expanded energy efficiency upgrade program planned

A new subsidy program for domestic energy efficiency upgrades, to replace a preceding Saving at Home model in autumn, will feature more ambitious objectives than those set in the National Energy and Climate Plan, be constantly open for applicants, carry greater capital, and apply for a wider range of energy efficiency interventions, including smart home technology installations, deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas has pointed out in an interview with Greek daily to Ethnos.

Over the past decade, some 130,000 homes were upgraded at a cost of 1.3 billion euros, but a swifter rate will be sought through the new subsidy program, the minister noted.

The achievement of national energy policy objectives will require some 60,000 domestic energy efficiency upgrades per year and approximately 8 billion euros in funds until 2030, Thomas explained, adding that Greece will seek greater capital amounts through the EU recovery fund.

“Due to the requirements created in the context of the recent macroeconomic conditions and forecasts, we are working on a modern and much more ambitious framework to reinforce household energy upgrades for a transition to a support system offering energy upgrades and autonomy,” Thomas noted. “The new program is a direct government response to the post-pandemic era, the aim being to boost economic activity in domestic value-added sectors such as construction, manufacturing of building materials and solar systems, and also strengthen households by reducing energy costs.”

An even wider base of households will be eligible for the new subsidy program, while increased subsidy rates will be offered if predetermined energy efficiency targets are achieved by interventions, he added.

 

RES project completion, without connection, to suffice for tariffs

The energy ministry is working to revise a rule that determines when development of RES projects is considered complete, which enables them to secure their tariff prices for output, either through competitive procedures or not.

Under the current rules, RES projects are considered ready once they have been connected to networks, not when their development has been completed.

This has proven to be a major problem for investors behind wind and solar energy projects completed on time but unable to secure tariff prices as a result of the inability of power grid IPTO or distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO to offer connections when needed.

The matter is being worked on, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou noted during a virtual conference staged by the Hellenic-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Final decisions have not been reached but the plan is to have authorities inspect and certify the completion of RES projects regardless of whether they have been connected, in order to secure tariff levels available at the time, sources informed.

The energy ministry is also striving to further simplify RES licensing procedures by merging or even eliminating certain steps or permits currently required, according to Sdoukou.

 

 

Government moving to replace entire IPTO Holding board

The government intends to soon replace all five board members of listed IPTO Holding, its representative in power grid operator IPTO with a controlling 51 percent stake. IPTO was ownership unbundled three years ago.

The energy ministry is expected to propose, as replacements, five new officials on July 16, when IPTO Holding is scheduled to hold its annual general shareholders’ meeting, energypress sources have informed.

A shareholders’ decision on a new five-member IPTO Holding board is one of eight issues on the upcoming meeting’s agenda.

The term of the current board, comprising Iason Rousopoulos, the chief executive, Giannis Kabouris, its deputy, and board members Alexandros Nikolouzos, Konstantinos Karakatsanis and Evaggelos Darousos, expires on December 11 this year.

The existing board has asked shareholders to submit resumes of candidates they wish to propose for the new board no later than 48 hours prior to the July 16 meeting.

The IPTO Holding board change is not expected to impact – at least initially – work proceedings at power grid operator IPTO. Rousopoulos and Kabouris, IPTO Holdings’ chief and deputy, respectively, are also members of the IPTO power grid operator board.

DES ADMIE, the IPTO public holding company, holds a 25 percent share of IPTO and China’s SGCC the other 24 percent.

IPTO’s chief executive Manos Manousakis, who has the faith of the energy ministry and the Chinese shareholder, is expected to remain at his post, despite the changes at IPTO Holding, and orchestrate the sale of a further stake in IPTO. SGCC maintains priority rights in any prospective IPTO privatization procedure.

 

 

Ministry still examining Energean Prinos rescue plan

The energy ministry is continuing its close examination of a business plan delivered by Energean Oil & Gas for the rescue of its Prinos offshore oil field in northern Greece, requiring investments totaling 75 million euros in 2020 and 2021 if the venture is to be kept afloat following the negative impact of  lower oil prices and the pandemic, according to the company.

“The ministry is continuing to examine the data provided by the company as well as the business plan. They have determined the size of the necessary funds at 75 million euros but we, too, need to verify this,” an energy ministry official informed.

Early signs of a petroleum market rebound are encouraging but this does not mean that the market has fully recovered, the official added.

The ministry acknowledges the potential damage closure of the oil field would have on the local economy and, as a result, is looking for solutions, the official added.

Energean officials have stressed that time is running out for the oil field’s rescue, urgently needing a solution to remain viable.

The government will need to utilize the EU’s temporary state aid framework to ensure financial support for the Prinos oil field, Greece’s only producing field at present, and its necessary investments.

New RAE board members soon, candidacies due today

Candidates seeking three vacant board positions, of seven in total, at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have until today to submit their applications.

The authority has been left with four board members since Tuesday as the terms of three officials, Nikos Boulaxis (photo), the former chief, his deputy Sotiris Manolkidis and board member Nektaria Karakatsani, have all ended.

The government is expected to move swiftly to decide on its proposal for new director at RAE, energypress sources informed. Boulaxis is not running for an additional term.

Talks have already begun in search of a date when the new RAE board will be presented, by law, to Greek Parliament’s permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

RAE’s board members are selected by the energy minister before proposed to this committee for appointment. The committee is usually given a 30-day period to discuss the proposals, but, in this case, procedures are expected to be swift.

Decisions on the RAE board’s new faces could be reached as soon as this weekend, sources informed.

Crisis’ impact on Prinos looked at, Energean up against time

The energy ministry has turned to specialized consulting firm assistance for a detailed analysis on the pandemic’s financial impact on the Prinos offshore oil field in northern Greece, the country’s only producing field at present.

The energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou, handling the matter on behalf of the ministry, is currently holding talks on a daily basis with officials at Energean Oil & Gas, the field’s license holder.

The company wants emergency government support amid the extraordinary market conditions, energypress sources have informed.

The two sides are believed to be closely examining related data to determine the extent of the financial damage, for this project, due to the plunge in international oil prices, prompted by lower demand amid the widespread lockdown.

Energean Oil & Gas has invested 50 million euros between September, 2019 and May to keep production flowing at Prinos, an aging field, sources noted.

Sustainability is becoming a growing challenge at this venture, employing a workforce of approximately 270 employees, market authorities have noted. A cutdown in operating costs is seen as essential.

A cash injection for “Epsilon”, a fresher field in the area also licensed to Energean, could be made as a support for the company. Another option may entail financial support by the Greek State in exchange for a stake in Energean. Alternatively, state guarantees could be offered for a bank loan.

The finance ministry is also expected to become involved in the Prinos rescue effort. Much work lies ahead before any decisions can be reached. These will require European Commission approval.

Fast-track procedures pursued for green island pilot project

Fast-track licensing procedures deviating current regulations will be pursued by authorities to transform Agios Efstatios, colloquially referred to as Ai Stratis, a small island in the northeast Aegean, into a green island with RES production systems covering 85 percent of local energy needs for a population of less than 300.

This renewable energy pilot project, organized and developed by KAPE, Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES), with the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou is expected to be completed in two years.

A RES hybrid station, telethermal unit converting excess RES output into thermal energy stored in hot water tanks, and a telethermal network fully covering local needs will all be developed.

 

Ministry preparing for Brussels demand response, TFRM approvals

Anticipating the European Commission’s approval of government proposals for a demand response mechanism and a transitory flexibility remuneration mechanism (TFRM), the energy ministry is preparing ministerial decisions for immediate signing once Brussels has given the green light.

These decisions will need to be signed by Greek officials before the two mechanisms can be implemented. The ministry is preparing the ground to have both mechanisms launched as soon as possible.

Brussels and Athens have reached an agreement on the mechanisms, prompting the energy ministry to deliver a finalized version of the demand response plan to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, ahead of this mechanism’s reintroduction.

The energy ministry expects power grid operator IPTO to be able to stage its first auction for demand-response capacities in July.

According to the agreement reached with Brussels, IPTO will be permitted to auction demand response capacities of up to 800 MW, below the previous limit of 1,030 MW.

Also, a greater number of participants will be eligible as enterprises with capacities of at least 2 MW will be able to take part, down from 3 MW in the previous mechanism. Troubled nickel producer Larco will not be excluded.

In addition, the new mechanism will run until September 30, 2021, not for two years as had been requested by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

As for the TFRM, it will remain valid until the implementation of a permanent CAT mechanism, which the energy ministry expects to launch in March, 2021.

The TFRM will be divided into two stages, the first running until the launch of target model markets, scheduled for September 17, under the same terms that applied for a mechanism that expired in March, 2019.

The TFRM’s second stage will run from the launch of the target model until a permanent flexibility mechanism is introduced. Its capacity is expected to be drastically reduced to 750 MW from 4,500 MW. Remuneration levels are also expected to drop.

Energy exchange launch date rescheduled for September 17

The energy ministry is set to reschedule the energy exchange market’s launch date for September 17, two-and-a-half months beyond the original June 30 date, following commitments made yesterday, during a virtual conference, by the power grid operator IPTO and Hellenic Energy Exchange (HENEX) administrations on the delivery of information systems and time required for trial runs.

The energy ministry is now expected to soon deliver a related ministerial decision, probably next week, setting the new schedule for the target model, or, more specifically, the energy exchange’s spot markets.

The compatibility of platforms and other applications being co-developed by the Greek energy exchange and IPTO for the balancing market is seen as crucial to the success of the new schedule.

As has been previously reported, a delay in the delivery of a balancing market platform to IPTO by General Electric, commissioned this project, has been a key factor behind the inability of officials to meet the original June 30 launch date.

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 the outbreak.

IPTO, now closely coordinating with GE for a specific delivery date following the relaxation of lockdown measures, has promised to gradually deliver required information systems as of this month, prompting Greek authorities to set a new launch date.

According to the new schedule, certain trial runs testing combined energy exchange and IPTO systems will begin on June 22. Simulated testing, or a dry run, of all systems is expected to start on August 3 and last until markets are actually launched on September 17, given no issues arise.

Broader offsetting eligibility for operator, energy firm accounts

The energy ministry intends to maximize the eligibility and coverage of an imminent plan designed to offset unsettled accounts between market operators and energy producers or suppliers.

A related ministerial decision is expected to be delivered by the energy ministry within the next fortnight.

The energy ministry’s upcoming measure, seen as crucial cash-flow support for energy-sector companies amid extraordinary times, will seek to make eligible – for offsetting – as many categories as is legally possible.

This essentially means that the offsetting plan’s terms to be included in the ministerial decision will be far more relaxed than those of a proposal delivered just days ago by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The energy ministry accepts a number of the observations made by RAE but is proceeding with its own appraisal and terms, sources informed.

Gov’t examining pandemic’s impact on Prinos oil field

The pandemic’s financial impact on offshore Prinos, Greece’s only producing oil field, south of Kavala, is being closely examined by government officials and specialized advisors, energypress sources have informed.

Conclusions have yet to be reached on the extent of the financial damage to the Prinos oil field, licensed to Energean Oil & Gas, but it appears the government will seek financial support for this venture through the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition.

Though it is still considered too early for any decisions, the government has apparently already recognized the damage inflicted on Prinos by the pandemic and subsequent drop in demand and oil prices.

The Greek government has pledged production continuity and job protection for Prinos, as was recently highlighted by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

Limits have been exhausted to keep Prinos operating, Energean Oil & Gas officials have pointed out, stressing the cost burden on the company.

 

New EU support plan to boost energy-sector investments

The decarbonization plan, a third round of the Saving at Home subsidy program for energy efficiency upgrades at buildings, the electric vehicle market growth effort and renewable energy-hydrogen development are seen capturing the lion’s share of energy-sector funds expected to be made available to the country through a wider European Commission support package proposal entitling Greece to 32 billion euros, plus funds from the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) covering 2021 to 2027.

Over ten billion euros could end up being absorbed for investments in these four sub-sectors, according to enerypress sources.

The energy ministry, taking this prospective influx into account, is now shaping preliminary energy-sector plans to comprise part of a wider government plan.

An upcoming series of energy-sector privatizations are being attached to these plans as the increasing importance of energy as a growth tool promises to intensify Greek and foreign investment interest.

According to latest estimates, the amount Greece will be entitled to through the European Commission’s Just Transition Fund, designed to support regions impacted by the EU’s decarbonization policy, now stands at 1.7 billion euros. The new Brussels support package could more-than-triple this amount, according to some early estimates.

Also, the third round of the Saving at Home energy efficiency upgrade program, estimated at 350 billion euros, could now end up reaching a level of about one billion euros as a result of the new Brussels support plan.

 

Target model, energy exchange plans shaped by meeting today

The energy ministry intends to set new launch dates for the target model and energy exchange markets once it has drawn conclusions from a crucial meeting today with representatives of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the Greek energy exchange, and power grid operator IPTO.

A previous June 30 target model launch date will definitely be missed as a result of various delays, including a pandemic-related hold up in the delivery of a balancing market platform by General Electric to IPTO.

The revised target model schedule, to be included in a related ministerial decision, will be based on the new feasible launch date for energy exchange markets.

No pending issues remain concerning the operating regulations to apply for the new markets. All rules have been approved.

Certain formula details, including a much-debated formula concerning the percentage of production each producer will be able to secure through contracts, are expected imminently, prior to June 22, when the tenure of RAE’s head official is set to expire.

A GE team that was stationed in Athens for the balancing market platform project left the country without notice, citing the possibility of greater pandemic danger ahead.

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

Well-informed authorities insist that the energy exchange’s spot markets cannot be launched before mid-September.

 

Gov’t committed to Prinos oil field sustainability, deputy tells

The government is committed to supporting the sustainability of the offshore Prinos oil field in the country’s north, Greece’s only producing unit, heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the global economy, including record-low oil prices, deputy energy minister Gerasimos Thomas pledged last night in response to questions raised by MPs of the leftist Syriza party and KKE, the Greek Communist Party.

“We are committed to the oil field’s uninterrupted production, an effort through which jobs will be protected,” Thomas stated.

The government is currently negotiating with Energean Oil & Gas, license holder and operator of the offshore field, south of Kavala, for a solid solution, the deputy minister also informed.

A detailed announcement will be made once these talks have been completed and the government has shaped its proposals, the deputy minister told parliament after Syriza MP Soultana Eleftheriadou criticized him for being too vague with his remarks.

Thomas made note of the European Commission’s new framework for state aid as one of the solutions being worked on by the government. This framework provides flexibility, he pointed out.

The deputy minister also made reference to a government support plan for the Kavala region that includes the development of an underground gas storage facility at a virtually depleted offshore gas field south of Kavala, and an upgrade of the city’s port.

Mixed RES auctions extension sought, ‘vital for grid stability’

The energy ministry is preparing to seek approval from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition for an extension of at least two years for current RES auction regulations enabling separate auctions for wind and solar unit installations, as well as mixed sessions.

The current format is valid until the end of this year. If the DG-Comp rejects the ministry’s bid, then Greece will only be permitted to stage mixed RES auctions, until 2024.

Officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, agree that RES auctions for separate technologies have been particularly effective and fruitful and should be given more time.

Energy ministry officials are currently preparing Greece’s application with supporting arguments.

In its extension bid, the ministry will stress that both major-scale wind and solar energy installations are necessary for grid stability.

It will also note that the characteristics of Greece’s landscape offer solar projects a competitive advantage, meaning that staging mixed RES auctions, only, would result in solar-project dominance and little capacity for wind energy tariffs.

Also, the ministry, in its quest, will insist that grid stability requires the development of smaller RES units at various network points and close to consumption centers. This, it will contend, cannot be achieved through mixed auctions, typically dominated by large-scale projects.

 

Suppliers skip surcharge payment credit offer for May

Electricity suppliers have ignored a credit option made available by the energy ministry for 30 percent of regulated-charge payments to operators.

A gradual improvement in electricity-bill payment records by consumers, combined with the offer’s credit terms, generally deemed unappealing and risky, appears to have stopped suppliers from taking advantage of the measure.

Not a single electricity supplier chose to utilize the credit offer for April-invoiced  surcharge payments to power grid operator IPTO by a May 15 deadline.

Surcharges included in energy bills are paid by consumers and then relayed by suppliers to operators.

Suppliers showed little interest in the offer a month earlier. Just four suppliers chose to utilize the credit offer for March surcharge payments due in April.

The energy ministry acted swiftly to prepare and introduce this credit offer as a cash-flow relief measure amid fears of major energy-bill payment delays by consumers.

Consumers have improved their energy bill payment records over the past few weeks following a deterioration early in the lockdown. This upward trajectory has so far spared suppliers of cash-flow dramas.

Deferred surcharge payments must be settled four months down the road, along with any other existing obligations, according to the ministry’s credit offer extended to suppliers. They have adopted a cautious stance, fearing debt accumulation.

According to some sources, a number of suppliers have chosen to informally delay their relay of surcharges to the operator rather than take up the credit offer.

 

Committee to oversee Greece, Cyprus, Israel grid link compatibility

Greek power grid operator IPTO, its Cypriot counterpart, DSMK, and project partners have been authorized by the energy ministries of the two countries to assemble a special committee tasked with ensuring technical compatibility between the prospective Athens-Crete grid interconnection and the planned Cypriot and Israeli links.

The Athens-Crete grid interconnection, work on which is set to begin, will be developed by IPTO subsidiary Ariadne Interconnector, following the Greek grid operator’s break away from Cyprus’ EuroAsia Interconnector, originally formed to oversee the entire interconnection project, from Greece to Israel, but now handling its Cyprus and Israel segments.

The Greek and Cypriot energy ministries have asked IPTO, DSKK, Ariadne Interconnector and EuroAsia Interconnector to assemble the special committee within the next fortnight.

Greece’s energy ministry is determined to contribute to all efforts resolving any technical issues for the wider Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection but development of the Athens-Crete section, nationally significant as it promises to prevent energy shortages on Crete, remains the ministry’s main concern at this stage, sources informed.

The Greek government is providing strong political support to the Crete-Cyprus and Cyprus-Israel segments, the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou has pointed out, noting Cyprus’ grid interconnection with the rest of the EU promises to help the country achieve RES objectives set for 2030.

Energy upgrade subsidies of €350-400m expected in autumn

A third round of the “Saving at Home” subsidy program, offering property owners support for energy efficiency upgrades, will make available a sum of between 350 and 400 million euros, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has indicated.

The subsidy program’s next round is expected to be launched in autumn, the minister noted, adding that the aim is to take its tally to one billion euros by the end of the year from the current total of between 600 and 650 million euros.

The program’s third round will be the final round to offer interested parties financial support through a combination of subsidies and interest-free loans.

Subsidy levels and income criteria are expected to be revised as the energy ministry wants to broaden the participation of households on average income levels, sources informed.

Under its existing format, the “Saving at Home” subsidy program divides eligible parties into seven categories, depending on income level, the highest category offering a 70 percent subsidy rate to lower-end income households.

At the other end, individuals with income levels of more than 35,000 euros per annum or households tallying family incomes of over 45,000 euros do not qualify for subsidies but are eligible for interest-free loans under the existing system.

The preceding second round of the “Saving at Home” program was offered last September.