Industrial officials enraged by PPC energy-negotiation demands

Industrial producers are reacting against terms and demands tabled by power utility PPC in ongoing negotiations for new high-voltage tariffs and agreements that take into account new market conditions ushered in by the target model.

Energy-intensive producers, not appeased by PPC’s recent decision to extend its negotiating period by three months – thereby extending the validity of existing agreements with industrial customers until June – claim the power utility is not making any effort to achieve compromise solutions.

The industrial sector is already in crisis, and, furthermore, the recent disruption of operations at steel producer Halyvourgiki and state-controlled nickel producer Larco, leaving PPC with enormous unpaid electricity bills, illustrates the power utility is not adopting government policies for a strategic recovery of the country’s industrial sector, officials at energy-intensive industrial enterprises have complained.

Although industrial energy costs are already too high, PPC is proposing high-voltage tariff increases in the range of 40 to 50 percent, industrial firm officials have noted.

Despite their obvious feelings of discontent, officials at energy-intensive consumers appear willing to keep negotiating with PPC in search of solutions that can enhance the competitiveness of industries.

However, some industrial sub-sectors, such as heavy industry, appear to be far less tolerant. Officials at iron, copper, cement and steel industries believe their proposals are not being considered at PPC.

They want balancing cost and take-or-pay clauses removed from any new agreements. Heavy industry cannot assume such risks and, at the same time, remain productive and competitive, officials stressed.

PPC set to issue Halyvourgiki €32m payment order

The main power utility PPC, on the front foot for solutions concerning its major-scale debtors, is preparing to issue a payment order to Halyvourgiki for a debt amount of 32 million euros after having already condemned the steel producer for breaching its agreement with the electricity corporation.

State-controlled PPC has ceased representing Halyvourgiki as an electricity supplier and, just weeks ago, criticized the industrial enterprise for having continued to benefit from lower-cost tariffs reserved for steel producers despite not having produced steel and related products since 2015.

PPC claims the Halyvourgiki company owner, the Aggelopoulos family, has, for years, leased the enterprise’s steel production plant, in Elefsina, west of Athens, to a third party for gas liquefaction purposes.

On another major debt front, PPC is believed to be close to reaching a payback program agreement with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals) for a debt amount of around 15 million euros.

In the lead-up, PPC was reinforced by a favorable court decision enabling the power utility to disrupt its electricity supply to ELFE, which drew the fertilizer and chemicals producer to the negotiating table with proposals.

A PPC-ELFE agreement would end an unusual payback method enforced on PPC by a Kavala court in August, 2017. The verdict issued by the court in northern Greece required PPC to keep supplying electricity to troubled ELFE and receive payments through one of a number of associated enterprises established by ELFE’s owner, the Lavrentis corporate group, headed by Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, a failed businessman who acquired ELFE in 2009.

Elsewhere, a debt agreement between PPC and state-controlled nickel producer Larco, a huge problem for the power utility, has yet to be found. A new payback program for a Larco debt amount of approximately 90 million euros accumulated since the most recent – yet ultimately unsuccessful – payback program established between the two sides is pending. Larco now owes PPC over 300 million euros in total.

Larco recently agreed to cut output by 20 percent. PPC holds an 11.45 percent stake in Larco, TAIPED, the state privatization fund, controls 55.19 percent, and the National Bank of Greece has a 33.36 percent stake.

Besides clamping down on major debtors, PPC is working on an industrial tariffs study demanded by the country’s privatization fund. It will aim to both maintain discounts and also introduce certain hikes, PPC’s chief executive informed yesterday without elaborating.

PPC attack on Halyvourgiki also a message for troubled Larco

Time is running out for the troubled state-controlled nickel producer Larco to resolve its debt issues with the power utility PPC, which has set a January 1 deadline for its electricity supply to the industrial producer.

Larco now owes PPC over 300 million euros. Officials are scrambling for a solution, still not found until yesterday, to avoid an electricity supply cut, sources informed.

Undoubtedly also serving as an indirect warning for Larco, PPC yesterday lashed out at another beleaguered industrial firm, the steel producer Halyvourgiki, which owes the power utility more than 30 million euros.

In a company announcement yesterday, PPC criticized Halyvourgiki for breaching the terms of their agreement, adding it has already taken appropriate action to compensate for damages and determine if trickery has been at play.

PPC claims Halyvourgiki has continued being supplied electricity at favorable tariffs, reserved for the utility’s industrial consumers, despite not having produced steel and related products since 2015.

PPC to take legal action against Halyvourgiki steel producer over debt

The main power utility PPC plans to take legal action against troubled steel producer Halyvourgiki over unpaid electricity bills totaling more than 30 million euros, the power utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis informed a general shareholders’ meeting held today.

Panagiotakis stressed PPC is not pulling the plug on the steel producer as it may continue being supplied energy from the grid. He also described a Halyvourgiki offer concerning a partial payment worth half a million euros as unsatisfactory. Halyvourgiki, Greece’s oldest steel producer, is believed to owe PPC a total of 31.4 million euros.

The government had imposed a December 4 deadline on Halyvourgiki but it appears to have failed to produce results.

Besides the plan for legal action, PPC may decide to interrupt its supply to Halyvourgiki either today or tomorrow.  Power grid operator IPTO has been informed of the intention.

On another front, PPC is currently pursuing a debt agreement with another troubled industrial firm, the nickel producer Larco, owing the power utility an amount in excess of 280 million euros.

The two sides have formed a joint committee to facilitate negotiations. PPC is demanding full payments for all new Larco electricity consumption, implementation of a payback program for older amounts and provisions offering solid guarantees. PPC threatens to stop representing Larco as the firm’s electricity supplier if these terms are not met.