Income upper limit for ‘Saving at Home’ subsidy program raised to €80,000

An existing household income upper limit of 50,000 euros needed for qualification into the “Saving at Home” program, offering subsidies to property owners for domestic energy efficiency upgrades, will be increased to 80,000 euros for the program’s imminent next offering.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is expected to announce the subsidy program’s revised terms, widening the pool of eligible parties, during the day.

The latest “Saving at Home” program, offering subsidies or interest-free loans for energy efficiency upgrades, is expected to be launched on July 12.

The new package is believed to be worth a total of 270 million euros. Applicants will be able to receive as much as 25,000 euros for their energy efficiency upgrades.

The “Saving at Home” program offers financial support for window and window pane replacements; installations or upgrades of external wall insulation systems; heating and cooling system upgrades; as well as RES-based water heating.



Brussels set to launch action against Amynteo overtime use

The European Commission is set to launch a sanctions process against Greece in response to the country’s continued use of main power utility PPC’s lignite-fired Amynteo power station, whose 17,500-hour operating time limit, imposed for environmental reasons, expired approximately three weeks ago, on November 19.

The news of the imminent Brussels action was disclosed by a highly-ranked Directorate-General for Environment official in Athens last Friday, who added the specific department, responsible for EU policy on the environment, has not received any Greek extension request.

European Commission sanction procedures for such issues are typically lengthy and could take anywhere between a year or two to complete from the time Brussels forwards its initial complaint, the two sides exchange ensuing letters, Athens raises an anticipated objection, and Brussels issues a ruling, an official who is well-informed on the process told energypress.

Athens will aim to utilize this period and push ahead with a plan to complete an Amynteo power station upgrade that would enable the revamped unit to keep operating. The development of Ptolemaida V, a modern facility, may also be completed by then.

The Amynteo upgrade is not expected to begin until a bailout-required sale of three power stations at Megalopoli and Meliti has been completed.

The Mytilineos group, Gek Terna, Copelouzos, joined by China’s Shenhua, as well as Intrakat, have all expressed interest for involvement in the Amynteo upgrade.



Amynteo to run beyond limit for heating purposes until upgrade

The government intends to keep operating state-controlled main power utility PPC’s ageing Amynteo power station in the country’s north beyond the slim remainder of a 17,500-hour time limit imposed by the European Commission, now down to six days, to keep covering local telethermal needs until an environmental upgrade of the unit is completed for its full-scale relaunch.

According to initial estimates, the Amynteo upgrade effort could take over a year to complete once the Brussels time limit on the power station expires on November 19.

A process for decisions on the Amynteo upgrade plan’s optimal course is not expected to begin until the completion of PPC’s ongoing bailout-required sale of other lignite units, including three lignite-fired power stations in Megalopoli and Meliti.

The possibility of rival power producers filing complaints or charges against PPC – during the revamp period – for keeping Amynteo running beyond the Brussels-imposed time limit cannot be ruled out.

The government is taking a chance on the issue as, otherwise, locals in the Ptolemaida, Amynteo and Filotas would be left without a general heating system this coming winter.

A public consultation procedure on the use of lignite in the national energy plan until 2030 begins today.

PPC union attacks utility over unit upgrades, consultation cost

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union, has unleashed a wide-ranged attack on the utility’s administration by condemning upgrade projects of two pivotal power stations as well as the eventual cost of consulting services provided by McKinsey.

The union group also criticized the leadership’s handling of a bailout-required disinvestment of PPC lignite units and reiterated threats to intensify its protest activity with the aim of preventing the sales of lignite-fired power stations and mines, representing 40 percent of the power utility’s overall lignite capacity.

Genop alleged that serious problems hang over upgrades conducted at the Agios Dimitrios III and Agios Dimitrios IV power stations, planned to play crucial production roles at PPC following the disinvestments, while adding that high-cost desulphurization work at the facilities in not making good progress.

If these allegations are true, then PPC could have trouble operating the power stations as of 2020, following the end of an exemption to an EU law concerning power station emission limits for high-polluting units.

Also, work at Ptolemaida V, a new unit, is well behind schedule, Genop contended. This investment may not be sustainable if CAT payments for production are not secured, the union warned.

In its criticism of the amount paid by PPC to the consulting firm McKinsey for a business plan, the Genop union group alleged an initial 1.2 million-euro cost for the consulting services ended up reaching 1.8 million euros.

McKinsey was paid an additional 600,000 euros for a six-month extension to its contract with PPC as its initial report, presented in February, did not include crucial issues such as the power utility’s debt restructuring plan, completed later, the union alleged.