PPC negotiating long-term PPAs with 3 industrial players

Power utility PPC is holding talks with two, possibly three, industrial players for new electricity supply agreements in the form of long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) of up to ten years following the expiry, on January 1, of high-voltage supply deals.

PPC and the industrial enterprises involved in these negotiations are currently discussing the details of terms and fixed price levels, sources informed.

The energy ministry’s intention to exempt electricity producers from a wholesale electricity market cap, as long as they have established PPAs with energy-intensive consumers for physical delivery of power quantities, has served as a catalyst for the ongoing negotiations.

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas is awaiting the European Commission’s approval for this exemption.

The industrial players discussing prospective PPAs with PPC cannot fully cover their energy needs through their own electricity production facilities, sources noted.

The current energy crisis highlights the energy-price volatility risk faced by industrial players and the importance of fixed electricity prices for stability and security to their operations, officials pointed out.

PPAs promise to offer industries energy-cost stability during times of great uncertainty, they added.


Industrial players paying price for energy supply agreement delays

Industrial producers who have prolonged their energy-supply negotiations and delayed signing new agreements now face drastically deteriorated conditions prompted by an alarming price surge.

Highlighting the unfavorable turn in market conditions, one small-scale industrial consumer is believed to have just signed a new high-voltage supply agreement at a price level of approximately 120 euros per MWh, about 30 percent higher than levels of just a few months ago and considerably higher than supply agreements reached early in the summer.

Power utility PPC managed to move fast enough to incorporate hedging agreements to these deals as protection against price rises, a crucial decision given the current conditions.

A number of large-scale industrial players have yet to reach electricity supply agreements, finding themselves fully exposed to the sharp price rises, caused by a combination of unfavorable factors in international markets.

Mid-voltage industrial producers find themselves in even more discomforting positions as electricity price rises for this category have been even steeper, reaching levels of 125 euros per MWh in July and 150 euros per MWh in August.

The adverse market conditions help explain Hellenic Petroleum ELPE’s recent decision to not sign a new supply agreement with PPC, turning instead to group member Elpedison for its electricity needs.

Increased electricity and natural gas costs are severely impacting the competitiveness of industrial producers, expected to pass on these increased costs to their product prices.


Industrial consumers support RAE action for retail market revisions

EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, has, in public consultation staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, backed the authority’s initiative for prospective revisions to retail electricity rules, noting competition is being affected by coordinated actions from suppliers.

In its letter submitted to the public consultation procedure, EVIKEN reminds that it has called for decisive intervention by RAE, noting that the supply market, in the absence of fundamental conditions fostering competition – a situation for which vertically integrated energy companies, especially private sector companies, are responsible – can be characterized by coordinated practices that aim to fully transfer to customers price risks entailed in day-ahead and balancing markets.

EVIKEN, in its letter, demanded data illustrating the number of days over the past two months when electricity production technologies (lignite, natural gas, hydropower and imports) determined prices in the day-ahead market.

ELPE leaving PPC for supply agreement with Elpedison

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), until now receiving its high-voltage electricity from power utility PPC, appears set to end this association to establish a new supply deal with energy firm Elpedison, the petroleum group’s own 50-50 joint venture with Italy’s Edison.

If this move is confirmed, Elpedison’s retail market share will make a gain to nearly 1.5 percent.

PPC, currently involved in talks with industrial consumers for new high-voltage supply deals until 2023, is likely to lose another big producer, sources informed, without elaborating.

Last month, the power utility officially reached a supply agreement with Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, the final deal between the two enterprises following a 60-year association.

Barring one case, in which considerable ground still needs to be covered, PPC’s other negotiations will industrial consumers are believed to be nearing agreements, sources informed.

PPC and the industrial consumers still need to agree on the extent of a tariff increase, expected to be set at approximately 20 percent. The new agreements are not expected to offer consumers discounts for punctual payments.

Other details being discussed include how the respective profiles of industrial consumers will influence tariff agreements. Take-or-pay clause details are also still being negotiated.

This round of deals between PPC and industrial consumers will be the last involving fixed tariff agreements. From 2023 onwards, industrial consumer supply agreements with PPC will be subject to floating rates pegged to wholesale market costs.

Conditions for power purchase agreements (PPAs) between industrial consumers and RES producers are expected to have ripened by 2023. A related energy exchange platform facilitating such agreements is expected to be ready within 2022.

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.


PPC near deals with industrial customers after Aluminium of Greece agreement

Power utility PPC, which officially reached a supply agreement last week with Aluminium of Greece, a member of the Mytilineos group, is close to finalizing agreements with all other industrial consumers. Announcements of new deals could be imminent.

PPC and the industrial consumers still need to agree on the extent of a tariff increase, expected to be set at approximately 20 percent. The new agreements are not expected to offer consumers discounts for punctual payments.

Other details being discussed between the two sides include how the respective profiles of industrial consumers will influence tariff agreements. Take-or-pay clause details are also still being negotiated.

This round of deals between PPC and industrial consumers will be the last involving fixed tariff agreements.

From 2023 onwards, industrial consumers establishing supply agreements with PPC will be subject to floating rates pegged to wholesale market costs.

Industrial tariffs will fluctuate in accordance with monthly clearing prices at the energy exchange’s day-ahead market.

PPC’s recent agreement with Aluminium of Greece, covering July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023, is the last following a 60-year association between the two companies. The Mytilineos group has set eco-friendly objectives for aluminium production.

Beyond 2023, Aluminium of Greece will 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.

PPC, industrial consumers nearing 2021-23 supply deals

Power utility PPC’s ongoing negotiations with industrial consumers for new two-year supply deals covering 2021 to 2023 are making progress in a number of cases, where deals are close to being finalized, while, in others, work is still needed to bridge gaps.

Tariff increases of approximately 20 percent are expected, while discounts for punctual payments by customers will not be incorporated into the new two-year deals, it has become apparent.

The talks are now focused on other matters, still unresolved, including the method applied by the power utility to shape customer profiles influencing respective tariff levels.

The percentage of a take-or-pay clause to be applied on monthly electricity consumption levels, or discrepancies from agreed consumption levels, is another matter that remains unresolved.

At this stage, PPC appears likely to accept a more flexible solution compared to its initial proposal.

PPC has already reached an agreement, until 2023, with the vertically integrated Mytilineos group’s Aluminium of Greece, the final deal in a 60-year association.

As of 2023, PPC’s pricing policy for energy-intensive consumers will change as tariffs will no longer be fixed but linked to wholesale electricity costs.

PPC extends industrial tariff negotiations until June

Power utility PPC has extended by three months its negotiating period for new high-voltage industrial tariffs following a request by a number of energy-intensive producers, energypress sources have informed.

The negotiating sides acknowledge pandemic-related problems have prompted the need for additional time, during which  compromise solutions will be sought.

PPC had given industrial enterprises until February 28 to accept a new high-voltage tariff pricing formula. The previous system’s validity expired December 31.

Industrial electricity charges for the first two months of 2021 have been based on the terms of expired agreements.

According to sources, tariff levels are of secondary importance in these negotiations, the prime concern being a new pricing system sought by PPC, which, if implemented, would bring an end to fixed tariffs and volume discounts.

PPC contends that the target model and its accompanying energy exchange markets, such as the balancing market, need to be taken into account for new pricing formulas.

The negotiating sides appear determined to reach agreements that would bolster the competitiveness of industrial producers without obligating the state-controlled power utility to supply high-voltage electricity at below-cost levels.

Brussels once again scrutinizing PPC high-voltage market share

Power utility PPC’s solid market share, especially in the high-voltage category, is once again being scrutinized by European Commission officials as part of Brussels’ ninth post-bailout review.

According to sources, European Commission authorities are seeking explanations from Greek officials for the state-controlled power utility’s unabating market share in the high-voltage category.

Brussels officials appear to be holding PPC responsible for selling specially priced industrial electricity at extremely low levels. Industrial consumers, also contacted by European Commission officials as part of the review, have attributed their customer loyalty to a lack of competition in Greece’s industrial electricity market.

PPC has held on to virtually all of its industrial customers, except for AGET (Heracles General Cement Corporation). MEL (Macedonia Paper Mills) abandoned PPC for a short period but has since returned.

Brussels officials are also believed to have questioned PPC’s electricity price levels in the low and medium-voltage categories, suggesting that these, too, are low.

It remains to be seen if this overall probing by the European Commission will develop into any form of official pressure.

Just days ago, energy minister Kostas Skrekas reached an agreement with the European Commission to end a long-running anti-trust case against PPC by agreeing to gradually end the utility’s monopoly of lignite-based electricity production. Despite the development, a number of Brussels officials appear to be keeping PPC in the frame.


Wholesale prices in Greece well over European average in 3Q

Wholesale electricity prices in Greece during the third quarter of 2020 were three times over the €16/MWh European average, based on the Nord Pool power exchange, a European Commission report covering European electricity markets for this period has shown.

The report also traces the market’s 3Q rebound following a heavy slump in the preceding quarter.

Average prices rebounded at a slower pace in southeast Europe, compared to other regions, before reaching pre-pandemic levels in September as a result of weak demand and high production of wind energy and hydropower facilities, according to the Brussels report.

The average price in the third quarter rose by 43 percent, against 2Q, to €43/MWh, and was 30 percent lower, annually.

European price shifts in August moved in coordination, while the price gap between Greece and the European average narrowed significantly in 3Q as a result of the use of lignite-fired units and weak demand.

This gap vanished in September as a result of stronger wind energy output, which exceeded one TWh for the first time. As a result, prices in the region were between €46 and €47/MWh in September.

As for energy-mix developments, lignite-based production in Greece experienced a decreased share, captured by natural gas-fueled output.

In southeast Europe, the lignite-based output share contracted to 29 percent in 3Q from 35 percent in the equivalent period a year earlier; the gas-fueled sector’s production share rose to 20 percent from 18 percent; and the RES sector’s share of the energy mix increased to 34 percent from 30 percent.

Household electricity tariffs in Greece averaged €16.54/MWh (not including taxes and surcharges), while the country’s average for industrial tariffs was €10.62/MWh, the report showed.

EVIKEN requests balancing market restrictions for at least 6 months

EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, wants a price ceiling imposed for at least six months in the balancing market, warning producers are seeking to elevate industrial electricity tariffs despite the absence of any corresponding production cost increases.

Restrictive measures for a three-month duration, as proposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in its related public consultation procedure would not suffice, EVIKEN warned.

The association, in a letter submitted to the public consultation procedure, also requested retroactive implementation of a price ceiling in the balancing market, beginning November 1, 2020.

Balancing market costs have risen sharply since the launch of new target model markets six weeks ago, pushing up wholesale and retail electricity prices.

The electricity market’s current structure enables oligopolistic practices that are not subject to monitoring, EVIKEN noted in its letter.

PPC planning industrial tariff discounts, reflecting lower cost

Power utility PPC intends to offer discount tariffs, as generous as its finances can permit, to industrial consumers in a move that would represent key complementary support for the government’s plan to reduce industrial energy costs.

PPC’s ability to deliver on this industrial energy discount plan will very much depend on the fate of the corporation’s compensation request forwarded to the European Commission for the utility’s gradual withdrawal of its loss-incurring lignite-fired power stations between 2021 and 2023. PPC has requested compensation of 200 million euros, annually.

A Brussels decision on this request is not expected any sooner than late November. If this PPC initiative fails to produce a positive result, Greece’s ten-year dispute with the European Commission over the country’s continued reliance on lignite for electricity generation could drag on.

Greece cannot be expected to adopt a mechanism offering state-controlled PPC’s rivals access to lignite-based output if the European Commission refuses to approve cost-offsetting measures for the utility, as has been the case in other EU member states, local sources contend. Germany and Dutch energy companies have benefited from such offsetting measures in the past.

Whatever the outcome, state-controlled PPC seems determined to support the industrial sector by minimizing its profit margin for new electricity supply contracts, to come into effect January, 2021. However, the corporation has made clear it will not sell below cost to any industrial consumer.

Industrial enterprises believe a 10 percent tariff increase agreed to in March, 2019 for a three-year period covering 2018 to 2020, can no longer be justified as electricity production costs have since fallen, meaning tariffs must follow suit.

PPC, industrial firms begin talks for new supply deals, limits set

Though still at an early stage, talks between power utility PPC and industrial consumers for new electricity supply agreements to become valid once current deals expire at the end of this year, already appear likely to require plenty of negotiating and time if current differences are to be overcome.

PPC has made clear it will not sell electricity at below-cost price levels to any customer. At the other end, industrial enterprises, each negotiating separately with the power utility, insist that a 10 percent price hike agreed to in March, 2019 for a three-year period covering 2018 to 2020 is unjustifiable as electricity production costs have fallen.

Besides price matters, the two sides also disagree on the duration of new deals. Industrialists are pushing for three-year agreements, covering 2021 to 2023, whereas PPC favors a shorter period. Insiders are predicting months of negotiations.

Industrialists are expected to seek quotes from PPC rivals. Vertically integrated energy groups that have secured competitive natural gas prices in recent months are in a position to offer lower electricity tariffs, regardless of fluctuations in the wholesale electricity market.

In July, wholesale electricity prices registered a level of 41.13 euros per MWh, down 34 percent from the equivalent month a year earlier.

Three industrial consumers, the cement producers AGET Heracles and TITAN and Macedonian Paper Mills (MEL), have been involved in talks with independent suppliers for high-voltage contracts.

PPC’s CO2 cost clause still a key issue for industrial energy consumers

The elimination of a formula applied by power utility PPC to calculate CO2 emission right costs included in industrial electricity tariffs, seen as lacking transparency, represents a key issue for major-scale energy consumers in 2020.

EVIKEN members, at a general meeting held by the association ahead of the festive season, questioned the CO2 surcharge formula applied by PPC to cover its costs resulting from CO2 emission right cost shifts.

Electricity bills issued by state-controlled PPC do not include an analysis of how this cost is calculated, EVIKEN members pointed out during the session.

This is not a new development. Over the past year or so, EVIKEN has demanded details on the CO2 calculation method from PPC. However, this request has not been met.

The issue has generated issues between the energy ministry, SEV, the Hellenic Association of Industrialists, and PPC as an offsetting measure offered to industries has not sufficed to cover this CO2-related cost.

EVIKEN responded by forwarding a series of letters to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on the matter, claiming lack of transparency. The authority, an independent body, subsequently ruled that the CO2 surcharge seriously breaches the supply code.

All but two of PPC’s major-scale customers, who signed supply contracts exempting them from the power utility’s CO2 price clause, have been overcharged by a sum of approximately 20 million euros, according to EVIKEN.

As a result of the EVIKEN pressure, PPC appears likely to eliminate this CO2 clause from major-scale supply contracts.

Additional energy costs a big concern for mid-voltage manufacturers

CO2 emission cost charges have developed into a major concern for mid-voltage manufacturers following recent market changes such as electricity tariff hikes and a reduced punctuality discount, offered when bills are paid on time.

The operating details of a CO2 emission cost adjustment mechanism, prompting charges that do not reflect actual costs, are seen as the main problem by manufacturers.

These charges are revised when CO2 emission right cost increases are greater than 10 percent and remain unchanged when the emission charge change is less than 10 percent.

As a result, the current system is leading to charges that do not reflect actual costs.

Electricity tariff changes for medium-voltage manufacturers, especially the termination of a CO2 emission cost discount, have increased their energy costs by 11 to 12 percent, making them less competitive.

The majority of these manufacturers are exporters and risk losing foreign markets, which would decrease production levels and place jobs at risk.

The issue is a concern for some 30 Greek manufacturers employing thousands and needing to overcome energy costs that represent between 30 and 40 percent of total production cost.

“Authorities need to understand that a measure prompting 10 percent electricity price increases or decreases is of little significance to an enterprise whose electricity cost represents just 2 percent of production cost, for example, but, on the other hand, is huge for an enterprise whose electricity cost represents 40 percent of production cost,” a leading industrialist told energypress.

PPC requested to improve CO2 surcharge transparency

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has requested greater billing details from the power utility PPC on its CO2 emission surcharges for medium and high-voltage consumers.

RAE president Nikos Boulaxis informed PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis of the authority’s transparency request in writing several days ago.

This had been preceded by complaints from EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, on the CO2 emissions formula applied by PPC for medium and high-voltage consumers.

The lack of billing information does not ensure transparency for industrial consumers, EVIKEN had noted in a letter forwarded to RAE in February, while urging the authority to intervene.

Viohalco electricity deal with PPC sets standard for industry

Leading metal processing company Viohalco, Greece’s second-biggest electricity consumer, has reached an electricity supply agreement with the main power utility PPC following many months of negotiations, achieved following concessions by both sides and the constructive role of two crucial factors that set standards for the wider industrial sector.

Viohalco accepted a 10 percent tariff increase in exchange for an extended three-year agreement, from 2018 to 2020, offering clarity and foreseeable electricity costs until the end of this period, the biggest benefit of the deal. The industrial enterprise’s electricity consumption reaches 1.2 TWh, representing a considerable part of its overall expenses.

A government pledge, expressed publically, ensuring Viohalco energy cost-savings and competitive electricity tariffs through an extension of Greece’s demand response mechanism (interruptability), was a second crucial factor leading to the industrial player’s three-year deal with PPC.

The measure compensates major-scale electricity consumers when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

PWC study for PPC industrial tariffs expected in March

A PWC consulting firm study on main power utility PPC’s industrial tariffs is expected to propose incorporating CO2 emission right costs and determine an average high-voltage revenue figure that ensures a fair profit margin for the utility while also serving as a base for tariff negotiations with industrial consumers leading to new supply agreements.

The plan should be ready by mid-March but the full list of criteria to be applied in the the calculations determining the average revenue figure remains unclear.

The PWC study, requested by the country’s privatization fund, according to PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, is expected to include a proposal for a two-year extension of a volume-based and punctuality discount, while the prospect of a 10 percent industrial tariff increase remains possible.

Early this year, PPC’s boss had made clear the utility’s intention to increase industrial tariffs, adding these revisions would be accompanied by a “small gift”, without elaborating further.

Energy costs have already risen considerably for industrial consumers as CO2 emission right costs, which have been on the rise, are added as a separate cost to mid and high-voltage electricity bills by the utility.

CO2 emission right costs rose to 14 euros per MWh in December from half this amount six months earlier, and increased to 18 euros per MWh in January.


PPC terms for Larco to guide new tariff talks with other industrial producers

Two basic terms included in the main power utility PPC’s power supply agreement with troubled nickel producer Larco promise to guide new tariff negotiations between the power utility and other industrial producers, beginning next week.

Larco, for one of these two terms, has been offered a fixed high-voltage 2 tariff and, furthermore, a volume-based discount of 18 percent for consumption of up to 75 GWh per month, or 900 GWh annually. Fixed high-voltage 2 tariffs (YT2) are reserved for a small number of industrial enterprises.

PPC’s agreement with the ailing nickel producer offers temporary protection to the power utility against any new credit misadventures by Larco, owing over 300 million euros to PPC. Both companies are state-controlled.

PPC’s main concern is to ensure Larco’s ability to cover all its electricity consumption costs from now on, and, looking ahead, reduce its existing debt amount owed to PPC if market conditions, or nickel price levels, allow.

Demands faced by Larco, in its agreement with PPC, include the need to drastically reduce output, cover – on time – the full cost of electricity consumed on a monthly basis, provide letters of guarantee, and also supply PPC 24,000 tons of lignite extracted from its mines in Kozani, northern Greece, to cover power utility fuel needs at its Kardia and Amynteo power plants.

PPC-Larco agreement offers 24% discount, conditions strict

Troubled nickel producer Larco’s new power supply agreement with the main power utility PPC, approved yesterday by the utility’s board, offers the producer a 24 percent discount and sets stric terms and conditions.

Larco will need to drastically reduce its production, cover – on time – the full cost of electricity consumed on a monthly basis, provide letters of guaranteem and also supply PPC 24,000 tons of lignite extracted from its mines in Kozani, northern Greece, to cover power utility fuel needs at its Kardia and Amynteo power plants.

Should Larco fail to fully cover its monthly electricity costs, PPC will have the right to disrupt electricity supply to the producer without any further action or notice, according to the agreement.

Also, Larco will need to reduce its annual energy consumption to a level of 900 GWh, or 75 GWh per month, a level the producer believes it can cover. If this upper limit is exceeded by up to 10 percent, then Larco will need to provide PPC a letter of guarantee worth 600,000 euros if the latter is to continue supplying electricity.

It remains to be seen how firmly the agreement will be enforced. PPC and Larco are both state-controlled enterprises. Larco’s debt to PPC exceeds 300 million euros. Pundits view the agreement as yet another life extension ahead of elections, due later this year.



PWC industrial tariffs plan for PPC echoes minister’s rejected proposal

A PWC consulting firm study requested by the country’s privatization fund on main power utility PPC industrial tariffs proposes a two-year extension of a volume-based and punctuality discount, while the prospect of a 10 percent industrial tariff increase remains possible.

This plan echoes a similar-minded proposal presented by the alternate minister of economy and development Stergios Pitsiorlas last November, which was rejected by industrial consumers. Subsequently, it remains unclear if industrial consumers will accept the new PWC-shaped proposal.

Less than a fortnight ago, PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis suggested a 10 percent tariff increase would be accompanied by a “small gift”, without elaborating further.

These matters will be presented for approval at a PPC shareholders’ meeting expected to take place late in February.

The terms of a new electricity agreement reached between the troubled state-controlled nickel producer Larco, owing PPC over 300 million euros, and the power utility, also state-controlled, will also be presented for approval at this meeting. Industrial producers will be watching closely.

Larco has accepted a production cutback of approximately 20 percent as a means of lowering its monthly electricity costs. According to sources, Larco has been offered an 18 percent volume-based discount and , as was the case in the past, no discount for punctuality of electricity bill payments. The two sides are expected to sign their agreement by no later than January 31.

In the lead-up to the PPC shareholders’ meeting, the PPC board will need to summon high-voltage industrial electricity consumers to negotiations, during which the power utility will present specific proposals based on the PWC study.


PPC, troubled Larco reach deal, ministry to balk closure threat

Troubled nickel producer Larco has accepted terms set by the main power utility PPC including a production cutback of approximately 20 percent as a means of lowering its monthly electricity costs from a current level of 5.5 million euros to 4.1 million euros, regarded as manageable by the industrial producer.

The two sides, both state-controlled, are expected to sign their new electricity agreement within the next few days, no later than January 31. Requiring the approval of shareholders at both companies, the new agreement will enable Larco to continue being a recipient of electricity at favorable industrial tariffs.

Larco, which owes PPC over 300 million euros, has also committed itself to a 4.1 million-euro payment to be covered by customer-related cash inflow.

If the plan to limit Larco’s monthly electricity cost to 4.1 million euros fails as a result of extraordinary cost increases, such as a sharp rise in CO2 emission right costs, then the nickel producer will need to provide letters of guarantee, updated monthly, according to the new PPC-Larco agreement.

On a negative note, Greece, as of yesterday, faces a new state aid challenge that threatens to take the country to the European Court if Larco does not return 135.8 million euros to the state within two months, by late March or early April. The amount is currently unavailable. Greece will need to return this amount to the EU or face hefty fines and financial sanctions.

Continuing to favor a state-controlled version of Larco, the government and energy ministry can be expected to try and buy as much time as possible for the return of the 135.8 million-euro amount and extend the matter to May, at least, with the objective of keeping the debt-laden nickel producer afloat ahead of national elections, due later in the year.

The government wants to avoid any political fallout of a company closure that would lead to 1,200 or so job losses.



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.