Supplier overdue payments to operators reaches €350m

Overdue payments owed by energy suppliers to the country’s market operators have been on the rise since summer, now exceeding 350 million euros, a development that has prompted the government to consider implementing an installment-based payment schedule as part of the solution.

The sharp increase in wholesale electricity prices over recent months has had a severe affect on the cash flow of suppliers, putting them under major financial pressure.

However, it should be pointed out that the majority of this 350 million-euro amount owed by suppliers to operators concerns the power utility PPC and includes a considerable amount owed from long before the current energy crisis.

Power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and RES market operator DAPEEP are all owed sums by the country’s suppliers.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is now considering a three-part solution entailing:  provision of letters of guarantee by suppliers to the operators, to prevent any further rise of the debt owed; immediate deposits covering 50 percent of amounts owed, either in cash or through bank guarantees representing equivalent amounts; and settlement of the remaining 50 percent through an installment-based schedule of between 8 to 12 payments, depending on respective agreements.

PPC lignite-fired electricity package sales to rivals for ’22 progressing fast

Power utility PPC is moving ahead at full speed with its offering of lignite-fired electricity packages to rival suppliers as part of a recent antitrust agreement reached between the energy ministry and the European Commission.

Lignite-fired electricity packages offered by PPC to rivals, covering all four quarters in 2022, have so far resulted in sales amounting to 1,740 GWh for next year.

PPC will need to sell, to rival suppliers, lignite-fired electricity packages estimated at a little over 2,100 GWh for the first, second and third quarters of 2022.

Sales have so far reached 475 GWh for the first quarter, 382 GWh for the second quarter, 386 for the third quarter and 497 GWh for the fourth quarter.

Transactions for most of the 1,740 GWh in lignite-fired electricity sales completed have taken place through the European energy exchange, reaching 1,697 GWh.

Transactions through the Greek energy exchange were limited to 43 GWh, for quantities concerning 1Q in 2022. PPC made available bigger quantities without attracting buyers.

Analysts partially attributed this reservation to the adverse conditions currently faced by domestic suppliers, who, as a result of exorbitantly higher wholesale electricity prices, are being forced to spend far greater proportions of cashflow on electricity purchases covering the current needs of customers, which has prevented them from considering futures contracts.

 

PPC must market over 2,100 GWh in lignite-fired power by end of month

Power utility PPC needs to move fast this month with its offering of lignite-fired electricity packages to rival suppliers as part of a recent antitrust agreement reached between the energy ministry and the European Commission.

According to the agreement, PPC must market lignite-fired electricity packages for the first, second and third quarters of 2022 by October 31, either through the European or Greek energy exchange.

The three packages also face imminent sale deadlines. All transactions for electricity quantities offered to PPC’s rivals through the first package will need to be completed by the end of November, while transactions for the 2Q and 3Q packages must be done and dusted by December 31.

As for the quantities to be offered, PPC’s 1Q and 2Q lignite-fired packages must total 872 and 515 GWh, respectively. The power utility’s 3Q package will need to offer rivals 50 percent of the company’s lignite-fired power generated in the third quarter this year.

According to data provided by power grid operator IPTO, PPC’s lignite-fired power stations produced 1,081 GWh in July and August, while September’s output has been estimated at 370 GWh.

Given these figures, totaling 1,451 GWh, PPC will need to offer a lignite-fired package of 725 GWh for the third quarter next year, taking the total offering for 1Q, 2Q and 3Q in 2022 to just over 2,100 GWh in futures contracts that must be marketed through either of the two aforementioned exchanges by the end of this month.

 

PPC fulfils 4Q antitrust lignite obligation for supply to rivals

Power utility PPC has fulfilled its fourth quarter antitrust obligations concerning the supply of lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties by securing futures contracts through the Greek and European energy exchanges for an electricity amount that exceeds the quantity stipulated in the government’s agreement with the European Commission, energypress sources have informed.

According to the agreement, which has resolved a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector, the power utility, in the fourth quarter, needed to offer third parties a total electricity amount representing at least 50 percent of lignite-fired generation recorded for the equivalent period last year.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations generated 1,785 GWh in the fourth quarter last year, meaning the amount the utility was expected to provide for the corresponding period this year was approximately 893 GWh.

Until yesterday, a day ahead of today’s deadline of its futures contracts, PPC had already secured deals for electricity packages representing a total of 978 GWh.

A first package of futures contracts was exclusively offered through the European energy exchange in Leipzig on September 17 at an average price of 153.75 euros per MWh, followed by three more packages, on September 23, 24 and yesterday.

PPC equity capital increase to reshape market, rivals on alert

Power utility PPC’s plan, announced late last week, to proceed with a 750 million-euro equity capital increase, effectively a partial privatization that will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent, promises to free the utility from restrictions imposed on state-controlled companies, boost its finances and enable the company to further consolidate its position as the dominant market player.

Rival players in the electricity and RES markets are closely following the developments, realizing the energy market map is headed for a major reshape if PPC’s equity capital increase is successfully completed.

PPC, as a transformed, independent corporation without state-company restrictions will be a much harder force to reckon with as it can be expected to charge ahead with an aggressive investment strategy in Greece and the Balkans, market players have commented.

Also, PPC, reshaping for a focus on green energy, will benefit from many advantages in the RES market, including the right to utilize its outgoing lignite areas for renewables, as well as priority grid dispatch rights given the strategic importance of its investments for the country, market officials have noted.

In response, rival players will now need to strengthen their capital standing and also consider strategic partnerships.

 

State subsidies for electricity bills, additional discounts concealed

Power utility PPC and the country’s independent suppliers are set to include state electricity subsidies into electricity bills in ten days’ time, while, from October 1, they plan to follow up with additional discounts to ease the burden of increased energy costs for consumers.

Electricity suppliers are now finalizing adjustments to their information systems for the inclusion of these state subsidies, worth 9 euros per electricity bill and retroactively effective as of September 1.

However, all suppliers are keeping under wraps the details of their additional discounts to be offered.

Market sources expect suppliers to offer discounts with the intention of retaining customers and also capturing greater retail electricity market shares.

Meanwhile, the energy ministry is expected, any day now, to submit a draft bill to parliament for the establishment of an Energy Transition Fund, its purpose being to gather amounts from CO2 emission right auctions for distribution as electricity-bill subsidies.

As a first step, the Energy Transition Fund is expected to collect between 180 and 200 million euros to support households and businesses in the low-voltage category, all facing additional pressure as a result of the sharp increase in energy costs.

 

 

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.

 

PPC chooses Greek energy exchange for lignite-fired electricity packages

Power utility PPC has chosen to offer lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties through the Greek energy exchange, not the European energy exchange, as it was also entitled to, sources have informed.

This main reason behind this decision, part of an imminent mechanism to be implemented as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector, is that PPC sees the forthcoming mechanism as a good opportunity for the domestic futures market to gain momentum and, by extension, help improve the utility’s cash flow.

The mechanism’s launch, coming at a time of elevated wholesale electricity prices, will help PPC’s rivals offset the period’s price volatility, which is crucial support that will enable independent players to compete more effectively in the retail electricity market and offer stable prices to consumers, the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, noted in an official announcement.

A legislative revision for the mechanism offering lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties is likely to be submitted to parliament today by the energy ministry.

The plan is expected to begin offering lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties by the fourth quarter.

 

PPC attachment to gov’t power cost measures angers rivals

The country’s independent electricity suppliers have deemed as necessary government support measures just announced to help combat rising wholesale, and by extension retail, electricity prices pushed up by a combination of unfavorable factors in international markets, but, even so, feel betrayed by the manner in which these measures were presented, perceived as an indirect boost for the state-run power utility PPC.

Officials at independent electricity supply companies, in comments to energypress, pointed out that PPC was incorporated into the government’s announcement for support measures, creating an impression that the dominant player’s pricing policy is a part of the government measures for lower-cost electricity. In other words, PPC was made to look as if it is providing social policy on behalf of the government, the independent supply company officials protested.

This ultimately sends out a message promising consumers protection and lower-cost electricity at PPC, marring the image of independent players as relentless, profit-seeking enterprises, the representatives complained.

Such initiatives threaten to confuse consumers and stifle market competition, the representatives added.

 

PPC local, European exchange option for lignite packages

Power utility PPC will be entitled to choose whether to offer lignite-fired electricity packages to third parties through the Greek energy exchange or European energy exchange, according to details of an upcoming mechanism to be implemented as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector.

PPC preference for the domestic energy exchange would keep open the option of physical delivery of these lignite electricity packages and ensure the company greater flexibility in its portfolio management. Opting for the European energy exchange would not permit physical delivery, making the deals purely financial transactions.

All that remains for the implementation of the mechanism, whose details have been agreed to by the government and European Commission, is a decision by the energy ministry on when to submit a related legislative revision to parliament, according to sources.

The legislative revision has been completed and the ministry is believed to be on standby for an appropriate date, the objective being to make a first round of lignite-fired electricity packages available to third parties by the fourth quarter this year.

All electricity suppliers will be entitled to purchase these packages, to have three-month durations.

As previously reported by energypress, the electricity quantity planned to be offered to suppliers through the mechanism in the fourth quarter this year will represent 50 percent of lignite-fired output in the equivalent period of 2020.

Then, for every quarter in 2022 and 2023, lignite-fired electricity packages to be offered to PPC’s rivals will represent 40 percent of lignite-based production in equivalent quarters of the respective previous years.

According to the country’s decarbonization plan, all existing lignite-fired power stations will cease operating by the end of 2023.

 

PPC retail market share remains high, 64.37% in August

Power utility PPC’s retail electricity market share remains high, capturing 64.37 percent in August, down slightly from the previous month’s 65.25 percent, a latest report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

The slight contraction does not represent a wider change in the overall market, but, instead, has been attributed to a market share gain by one supplier, Elpedison, a joint venture involving petroleum group ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and Italy’s Edison, following ELPE’s decision to stop receiving high-voltage electricity from PPC for supply from Elpedison. As a result, Elpedison’s retail electricity market share increased to 5.69 percent from 4.44 percent, placing the company in third place among the independent electricity suppliers.

PPC has essentially maintained recent market share gains in the retail market’s low and medium-voltage categories following power bill hikes made by independent suppliers as a result of their decisions to trigger wholesale cost-related clauses included in their electricity bills.

The entire field of independent electricity suppliers increased their overall share to 35.63 percent in August from 34.75 percent in July.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, led the pack of independent suppliers with a 7.67 percent market share in August, marginally below July’s 7.85 percent. Heron followed in second place with 6.4 percent in August from 6.77 percent in July and Elpedison was ranked third with aforementioned figures. NRG ranked fourth with 4.42 percent from 4.26 percent, while Watt and Volt was ranked fifth with an unchanged market share of 2.67 percent. Volterra was sixth with 2.05 percent from 2.07 percent, Fysiko Aerio Attikis seventh with 1.87 percent from 1.94 percent, Zenith eighth with 1.56 percent from 1.55 percent, Volton ninth with 1.46 percent from 1.43 percent and KEN tenth with 0.75 percent, unchanged from July to August.

Lignite-fired electricity packages to PPC rivals by fourth quarter

The energy ministry plans to soon submit to Parliament a legislative revision for a mechanism offering third parties access to power utility PPC’s lignite-fired electricity production. This move will enable the implementation of an agreement on the matter between the government and the European Commission as a remedy to a long-running antitrust case concerning PPC’s monopoly in the lignite sector.

Officials are aiming for a first round of lignite-produced electricity packages to become available to third parties imminently, by the fourth quarter of this year.

All electricity suppliers will be entitled to purchase these packages, to have three-month durations.

Electricity quantities planned to be offered to suppliers through the mechanism in the fourth quarter this year will be calculated to represent 50 percent of lignite-fired output in the equivalent period of 2020. Then, for every quarter in 2022 and 2023, lignite-fired packages to be offered to PPC’s rivals will represent 40 percent of lignite-based production in equivalent quarters of the respective previous years.

According to the country’s decarbonization plan, all existing lignite-fired power stations will cease operating and no longer participate in the electricity market by the end of 2023.

A prospective PPC facility, Ptolemaida V, is planned to be launched as a lignite-fired power station early in 2023 before it is withdrawn in December, 2024 for a fuel conversion and reintroduction.

 

 

PPC to partially absorb power costs, Brussels action imminent

Power utility PPC has decided to pursue a policy that will partially absorb electricity market price increases prompted by a volatile combination of unfavorable factors.

The utility plans to limit the impact of carbon emission costs and not pass on the entirety of their effect to consumers.

Competitors will either have to follow suit and subdue price hikes, which will hurt their financial results, or risk suffering market share losses.

The response of PPC’s rivals remains unclear at this stage. Marker players are now trying to estimate the duration of this unfavorable period of elevated prices.

Natural gas prices have surged, driven by Russia’s decision to slow down gas supply to Europe, presumably to pressure Brussels into brushing aside its reservations about a new Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. Also, CO2 emission costs have continued to rise.

CO2 emission cost futures contracts for December are stuck at levels of between 61 and 62 euros per ton, while analysts forecast levels of 65 euros per ton over the next few months, or possibly longer.

Given these factors, analysts believe it is a matter of time before the European Commission intervenes in an effort to deescalate market price levels by subduing CO2 emission costs and increasing its pressure on Moscow for a return to normal gas supply levels to Europe.

Otherwise, market conditions will become increasingly volatile with social repercussions, especially in countries experiencing extreme price increases that have been even greater than those in Greece.

In Bulgaria, for example, wholesale electricity prices have skyrocketed to more than 100 euros per MWh, well over the country’s usual levels of about 30 euros per MWh.

PPC industrial supply deals last act ahead of market share dive

Power utility PPC’s latest supply agreements with industrial consumers, finalized just days ago with steel producer Viohalco, Titan cement and building materials group, as well as all other industrial players, following a preceding deal with Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, represent, barring unexpected developments, the final act ahead of major market changes that will dramatically reduce the utility’s market share beyond December 31, 2023, when these new high-voltage supply agreements expire.

They are PPC’s last industrial supply agreements offering fixed tariffs. As of 2024, PPC will offer indexed tariff prices that will be pegged to the wholesale electricity market’s monthly clearing price in the day-ahead market.

This change will most likely prompt industrial consumers to seek alternative electricity supply solutions.

Aluminium of Greece has already done so, as it plans to receive electricity from the Mytilineos group’s new natural gas-fired power plant being developed in the Agios Nikolaos industrial zone in Viotia’s Agios Nikolaos area, northwest of Athens, to be direct cable-linked to the Aluminium of Greece facility, as well as through RES production, ending a 60-year association with PPC.

At present, PPC sells an annual electricity amount of between 63 to 64 TWh, of which approximately 5 TWh concern high-voltage electricity. If energy-intensive consumers leave PPC from 2024 onwards, to avoid indexed tariffs, the utility’s electricity sales will drop to between 58 and 59 TWh, and, by extension, its retail market share will contract to about 50 percent from 64 percent at present.

This is the state-controlled utility’s aim as an evenly divided electricity market in which PPC will hold a market share of about 50 percent and the independent suppliers the other 50 percent will end the DG Comp’s frequent interventions over the utility’s excessive retail market share.

The energy ministry is aiming for green-energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) to cover 20 percent of industrial electricity demand by next year.

 

Suppliers united against RAE’s electricity-bill revision proposals

The country’s entire spectrum of electricity suppliers, from power utility PPC, vertically integrated energy groups, to independent suppliers, have all denounced electricity-bill restriction proposals made by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which wants to offer consumers greater clarity and price-comparing ability, rejecting the proposed measures as outdated and inconsistent with European standards.

Electricity suppliers across the board contend the proposals, which offer less leeway in the shaping of offers, would stifle competition and ultimately increase tariffs for consumers.

In recent months, suppliers have been forced to activate electricity bill clauses as they have battled to cope with the impact of sharply increased natural gas prices in international markets as well as higher carbon emission right costs, all of which has led to elevated costs for consumers.

Supplier representatives, in comments to energypress, noted that RAE should have already taken other forms of action to protect consumers, pointing out systematic checks for misinformation practices, false advertising and unfair commercial policies.

The authority has proposed a 30 percent limit on clause-related increases and decreases; the termination of fixed costs, noting that, unlike tariffs, directly comparable, fixed costs tend to cause consumer confusion as they can run for one-month or four-month periods; the termination of an early-withdrawal clause, to stimulate greater consumer mobility; as well as electricity supply price inspections every three months, the objective being to counter temporary below-cost offers extended by some suppliers to lure customers.

 

Second market test launched for PPC lignite power packages

The European Commission has launched a second and revised market test to measure the level of interest of independent suppliers in power utility PPC’s lignite-generated electricity packages.

Suppliers have received a questionnaire as part of the procedure, staged following a subdued response to a first test in which participants more or less wrote off PPC lignite-generated electricity packages as a measure that could intensify competition in the electricity market. Participants have until July 14 to forward their responses.

A final antitrust agreement was reached at a mid-May meeting in Athens between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

Some revisions have been introduced to the lignite-based electricity package solution now being tested. The PPC packages would be offered through the energy exchange futures market, not through bilateral contracts with independent suppliers, as was originally proposed.

A second important revision concerns the pricing formula for these packages. It will now be determined through direct negotiation between the buyer and PPC through the futures market, without a market prices floor. Under the previous model, the price of the packages was based on the wholesale price minus a discount.

According to sources, the mechanism offering lignite electricity packages will remain valid until December, 2024, or, otherwise, will expire as soon as the country’s final lignite-fired power station has been withdrawn, if this precedes the aforementioned date.

Given these dates, the output of PPC’s Ptolemaida V, expected to be launched in 2023, initially as a lignite-fired unit before it converts to gas in 2026, will contribute to the lignite electricity packages.

PPC seeking to combine market share loss with hold of good customers

Power utility PPC is preparing to implement a new and aggressive pricing policy whose aim will be to combine a retail market share contraction with the maintenance of reliable customers.

“PPC will lose a share of the market, down to 50 percent from 70 percent, but we aim to keep hold of the good customers,” the power utility’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis has told a general shareholders’ meeting.

A competitive market cannot function properly with the dominant player holding a 70 percent share of supply, the PPC boss noted.

According to a 2021-2023 business plan presented by the chief executive last December, PPC expects to lose approximately 1.4 million customers, reducing the company’s market share to 54 percent by 2023.

Besides holding on to its reliable customers, PPC will also seek to lure punctual customers from rival suppliers.

As part of the effort, PPC is preparing to market a range of new products, including for business-category customers.

PPC, which revised its corporate statute just weeks ago, is also expected to introduce energy-efficiency and PV net-metering services, domains offering tremendous growth potential, noted Stassis, the chief executive.

The company is also modernizing its retail outlets, changes including the development of self-service outlets, the CEO told shareholders.

PPC has already launched new-look outlets in the capital’s Maroussi and Kallithea districts, while further launches, part of the effort to keep reliable customers, are expected early July.

RAE effort for universal supplier cost-clause policy facing delay

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, working on a universal cost-clause policy for all electricity suppliers, to offer consumers greater electricity-bill transparency and price-comparing ability, has extended, until the end of June, a deadline it set for suppliers to deliver related market data details concerning all of 2020 and 2021, until the present.

Independent suppliers, who recently triggered wholesale price-related clauses in electricity bills to protect themselves against elevated wholesale prices, were questioned by the authority and then requested, as early as a month ago, to produce related data but have failed to deliver, instead calling for more time.

Power utility PPC was the first supplier to be summoned for questioning over its decision to trigger a CO2 cost-related clause incorporated into its electricity bills.

RAE had initially planned to stage a public consultation procedure for a universal clause policy within July, after examining the data provided by suppliers, but this plan will now be delayed.

Given the fact that overall business activity slows down severely during the August holiday period, RAE’s proposal is now not expected to be forwarded for consultation any sooner than September.

Taking into account supplier objections expected to surface during the procedure, the new cost-clause policy cannot be expected to be implemented before October.

Consumer complaints over sharp electricity cost increases and lack of transparency in electricity billing have risen considerably in recent times.

Wholesale prices up nearly 20% in first 5 months, retail levels impacted

Wholesale electricity market prices rose by nearly 20 percent in the first five months of the year, official market data provided by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

These wholesale price increases directly impact retail price levels for consumers who have opted for floating-tariff supply agreements linked to wholesale price-related clauses.

The overall cost of electricity in the wholesale market rose 19.1 percent between January and May, from 64.111 euros per MWh to 76.373 euros per MWh.

Electricity prices in the day-ahead and intraday markets rose by 14.1 percent between January and May, from 55.612 euros per MWh to 63.499 euros per MWh, the data showed.

Discrepancy cost nearly doubled during this period, rising from 0.836 euros per MWh to 1.643 euros per MWh.

Power utility PPC, which, until now, has incorporated CO2-price clauses into its electricity bills, has announced it will adopt wholesale price-related clauses in August.

RAE working on common clause policy for suppliers

Following up on its intervention against power utility PPC’s recent decision to trigger a CO2 emission price-related clause for medium and low-voltage consumers, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has now begun questioning independent suppliers over their adoption of a wholesale price-related clause.

The authority, to concurrently investigate the legality of these initiatives, has asked suppliers to forward related data concerning all of 2020 and 2021, up to the present, by the beginning of next week as part of its effort to establish a common clause policy for all suppliers that can clarify the price-comparing ability of consumers.

RAE aims to announce a new set of rules on electricity bill clauses in September, following public consultation, possibly in July.

Once RAE has examined market data expected from independent suppliers, it intends to hold a series of talks with them as of June 21.

PPC, which, just days ago, was asked by RAE to replace its CO2 price-related clause with one linked to wholesale price levels, is doing so, announcing it will also implement a 30 percent discount as of August 5 to offset, as much as possible, a price rise anticipated as a result of its adoption of the wholesale price clause.

PPC adopting wholesale market clause along with 30% discount

Power utility PPC is preparing to replace its CO2 emission right price-related clause with one linked to wholesale electricity market price levels, which, combined with a 30 percent discount, to be applied as an offsetting tool, is ultimately expected to result in a slight overall reduction in electricity bill costs for consumers.

PPC’s new pricing system, set to be implemented on August 5, was adopted following pressure from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in its effort to enhance the price-comparing ability of consumers.

Until now, PPC has been the only supplier using a CO2-related clause in its pricing system. All other suppliers have incorporated a wholesale market-related clause into their supply agreements, as protection against increased wholesale costs.

The power utility triggered its CO2-related clause in May in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices, which resulted in electricity bill increases of between 5 and 6 percent for consumers.

This percentage increase in the cost of PPC’s electricity bills is expected to be lowered as a result of the switch to a wholesale market clause and the accompanying 30 percent discount.

PPC asked to replace CO2 clause with wholesale clause

Power utility PPC is facing pressure by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to replace its CO2 emission rights price clause with a wholesale electricity price clause adopted by all rival suppliers.

PPC’s decision to activate, early in May, its CO2 emission rights clause in response to rallying CO2 emission right prices has prompted regulatory issues, the authority contends.

PPC was asked, late last month, to explain its decision, as part of a series of meetings organized by the authority with all  suppliers.

RAE, demanding detailed data, is examining whether irregularities exist, the legality of these clauses, and if consumers have been misled.

Independent suppliers have also needed to explain their decisions to activate wholesale price clauses included in  supply agreements. Like CO2 emission right prices, wholesale electricity price levels have also risen.

The authority has received numerous complaints by consumers over costlier electricity bills.

PPC’s low-voltage power bills have risen by levels of between two and three euros since its activation of the CO2-related clause.

Though PPC, the dominant retail player, was the last to activate its clause, it was the first to be summoned by RAE.

CO2 emission right prices have persisted at elevated levels of over 52 euros per ton in recent times, peaking with a record high of 56.65 euros per ton on May 14, before easing slightly in recent days. CO2 emission right prices dropped to 50.14 euros per ton yesterday.

 

Medium-voltage suppliers seek higher-priced deal revisions

A sharp rise in medium-voltage energy costs over recent times, resulting from higher wholesale prices, threatens to damage the competitiveness of Greek manufacturers, Antonis Kontoleon, president of EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, has told energypress.

Rallying CO2 emission right prices as well as persistently higher prices in the day-ahead and balancing markets have prompted electricity suppliers to seek revised medium-voltage agreements as protection against loss-incurring sales.

Electricity suppliers, maintaining business to business agreements with medium-voltage consumers have increased – by 20 percent compared to just recently – their number of requests forwarded for new supply agreements.

More crucially, suppliers are asking their customers to accept upward price revisions.

In many cases, suppliers have forwarded letters to customers informing that they will no longer be able to service existing supply agreements unless prices per KWh are raised.

Low-voltage consumers also face increased electricity bill costs following the activation, by suppliers, of cost-protection clauses.

Independent suppliers have activated wholesale price-related clauses, incorporated in their supply agreements, while power utility PPC has triggered, for the first time, a CO2 emission rights cost-related clause.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned PPC’s administration to offer an explanation on this decision, at a meeting today. The authority is also expected to soon summon independent suppliers.

Brussels insists on PPC sale of lignite power packages to rivals

Power utility PPC must soon start offering rival suppliers portions of its lignite-based electricity production, as specified in an antitrust agreement, despite subdued interest by possible buyers expressed in a February market test, the European Commission insists.

The subject, which has remained stagnant for months following slow development over the past 13 years or so – ever since legal action was taken against PPC in 2008 over its lignite monopoly – will be one of the topics to be discussed at a meeting today between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition.

Given Brussels’ insistence, the energy ministry has devoted considerable time over the past few weeks to shape a lignite electricity sale plan, based on a January agreement between the minister and the country’s creditor institutions, that could finally settle the dispute.

The January agreement calls for the sale of energy packages, either quarterly or annually, representing, in 2021, 50 percent of the previous year’s lignite-based production.

The percentage of PPC’s lignite-based electricity quantities to be offered to rival suppliers in 2022 and 2023 should be reduced to 40 percent of the previous year’s output, according to the agreement.

These amounts are seen as insufficient to make any real impact on the retail electricity market’s standings.

Other issues to be discussed at today’s meeting between Skrekas and Vestager include Brussels’ support for a grid back-up model as part of a wider Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM). Athens favors a separate Strategic Reserve Mechanism to remunerate units that are made available by electricity producers for grid back-up services.

Skrekas is also striving to establish a mechanism that would subsidize RES producers for power purchase agreements (PPAs) with energy-intensive industrial enterprises.

Consumers returning to PPC, led by wholesale-linked hikes

Higher wholesale electricity prices, prompting independent suppliers to activate wholesale-cost clauses included in their supply agreements to avoid losses, are tightening up the market by leading disappointed consumers back to the power utility PPC, a clear regression in the effort to establish a broader, more competitive field of players, latest data has indicated.

Consumers opting to leave independent suppliers and return to PPC rose by 56 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, market data obtained by energypress has shown.

The number of consumers leaving independent suppliers for any other supplier increased by approximately 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the data showed.

This increase in consumer returns to PPC is expected to be reflected in forthcoming market-share data, market officials believe.

Last year, the wholesale market price, represented, at the time, as the system marginal price, ended April last year at 38.02 euros per MWh, whereas this year, in the form of the recently launched target model’s day-ahead market, the wholesale price in April has exceeded 63 euros per MWh.

Increased CO2 emission right costs and elevated TTF and Brent prices are factors that have driven wholesale electricity prices higher. So, too, are higher balancing costs, currently more than double levels of previous years.

Wholesale electricity prices for the next twelve months are seen averaging 89 euros per MWh in the low-voltage category and 79-80 euros per MWh in the medium-voltage category.

PPC, which has never achieved its commitment to lower its market share to less than 50 percent, is offering customers significant discounts at below cost, and, as a result, hampering the market liberalization process and further narrowing the profit margins of independent suppliers, a prominent market official has told energypress.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has the authority and responsibility to take action against suppliers selling electricity at  below cost and protect consumers against misleading offers, the official added.

Mechanisms, competition on Vestager agenda, here May 13

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas intends to present his case for the introduction of five support mechanisms encouraging energy-sector investments in Greece’s ongoing transition towards carbon neutrality to the European Commission’s Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, also Brussel’s Commissioner for Competition, on the occasion of the official’s upcoming visit to Athens, scheduled for May 13.

Vestager will be in the Greek capital with an agenda featuring two pending competition issues concerning state-controlled power utility PPC.

Greece has faced charges for PPC’s monopoly of the country’s lignite sources but an agreement was reached to end the case by introducing a mechanism offering the power utility’s rivals access to lignite-generated electricity.

A market test for this mechanism was completed some time ago but failed to attract any real interest from rival suppliers.

The percentage of lignite-based electricity made available by PPC, initially set at 50 percent of total lignite-fired output and then lowered to 40 percent, is viewed, by third parties, as too small for any real gains.

The second PPC-related matter to be discussed during Vestager’s visit concerns a recently initiated investigation by Brussels seeking to determine whether the power utility has engaged in activities impeding market competition.

Private-sector investors are pushing for a capacity remuneration mechanism (CRM) in order to go ahead with the development of natural gas-fueled power stations, needed as Greece heads towards a post-lignite era. Skrekas, the energy minister, has repeatedly said a CRM will be launched in June.

The minister also supports a strategic reserve mechanism to compensate PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, still needed for back-up services but nowadays loss-incurring as a result of higher CO2 emission right costs.

In addition, the government is seeking compensation for the premature closure of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations and related mines, being phased out until 2023.

The minister also supports a support framework for hybrid units on non-interconnected islands combining RES electricity generation and energy storage.

Skrekas is also striving to establish a mechanism that would subsidize RES producers for power purchase agreements (PPAs) with energy-intensive industrial enterprises as well as suppliers selling to major-scale consumers.

 

Electricity market shares unchanged in March, imports up

The overall market share of independent electricity suppliers remained unchanged at 34.2 percent in March, without any surprise reshuffling between these suppliers, as power utility PPC held on firmly to its previous month’s 65.8 percent share, a latest monthly report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

Like PPC, the market shares of some independent suppliers remained unchanged in March, compared to the previous month, the report showed.

Mytilineos registered a 7.97 percent market share in March, unchanged from February.

Heron’s market share fell marginally to 6.34 percent in March from 6.38 percent in February; Elpedison’s market share rose to 4.85 percent from 4.79 percent; NRG captured 4 percent, up from 3.89 percent; Watt and Volt fell to 2.58 percent from 2.73 percent; Volterra registered 1.93 percent, from 1.96 percent; Fysiko Aerio Attikis rose to 1.81 percent from 1.75 percent; Volton captured 1.41 percent, from 1.39 percent; Zenith reached 1.41 percent, from 1.36 percent; ELTA’s market share remained unchanged at 0.63 percent; and KEN fell slightly to 0.56 percent from 0.58 percent.

Electricity imports exceeded electricity exports, in terms of volume, the energy exchange report showed.

Also, the number of hours of net imports grew against the number of hours of net exports, the data for March showed.

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.

Suppliers summoned to explain overdue surcharge transfers

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has summoned power utility PPC and six independent electricity suppliers to hearings for explanations on overdue surcharge amounts they have yet to transfer to three market operators.

The authority had initially requested related data and explanations from suppliers and has now taken a further step by deciding to stage hearings for PPC and two other suppliers, followed by supplementary hearings involving a further four suppliers.

The three market operators, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, will also be called upon by the authority to offer data on the overdue surcharge transfers by suppliers.

According to sources, RAE authorities are examining a variety of surcharges, including network transmission, distribution network and RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharges, up until October, 2020.

These surcharges, included in electricity bills and paid by consumers as part of their electricity bills, must then be handed over by suppliers to respective operators within a specific time period.

Conditions have recently deteriorated for electricity suppliers, primarily as a result of considerably higher wholesale costs since November’s launch of the target model’s new markets.

Electricity suppliers contend that amounts owed to them by the operators outweigh their unpaid surcharges and, as a result, want accounts offset. RAE has rejected this request.