NOME split would undermine market liberalization effort

A public consultation procedure launched yesterday by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for reaction to a LAGIE (Electricity Market Operator) proposal entailing the split, into two lots, of a remaining 718 MWh/h NOME auction electricity amount that needs to be offered to the market by the end of 2017 has alarmed the country’s independent electricity suppliers as this proposal, if implemented, would generate a bidding war for smaller amounts, increase purchase prices for independent suppliers and, ultimately, keep customers at the still-dominant main power utility PPC.

The LAGIE plan proposes splitting the 718 MWh/h over two auctions, one offering 475 MWh/h at a session on October 18, the other 243 MWh/h on November 11.

The NOME auction amount’s split, combined with unrestricted electricity exports by traders, promises to end any hope of PPC achieving its bailout-required market share contraction targets, pundits told energypress.

PPC’s market share remains firm at 85.5 percent, stagnant since May, according to data released yesterday by LAGIE.

A limited electricity amount of 145 MWh/h was offered at the country’s most recent NOME auction, last July, prompting a bidding war between buyers that drove prices up to 43.05 euros per MWh. Such price levels seriously limit the ability of independent electricity suppliers to challenge PPC.

The utility had already dampened market competition conditions by introducing a 15 percent discount on electricity bills for punctual customers over a year ago.

Local authorities, pressured by Brussels, recently increased the NOME electricity amount to be offered for the remainder of 2017 in an effort to keep purchase prices as low as possible for buyers. The independent suppliers have looked forward to a single bigger auction offering 718 MWh/h, expecting it would provide them with greater pricing leeway.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece last October to offer independent electricity suppliers access to PPC’s lignite and hydropower sources, the intention being to enable lower-cost electricity purchases that would help the independent firms chip into PPC’s dominant market share.


Heavy winter, heatwave drive up first-half SMP average

The System Marginal Price (SMP), or electricity wholesale price, averaged 53.11 euros per MWh in the first half of 2017, driven up by last winter’s energy crisis, especially developments during the month of January, when the SMP rose sharply to 74.595 euros per MWh, data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, has shown.

The SMP averaged a far lower level of 46.961 euros per MWh between March and May. However, in June, the SMP gained 5.587 euros per MWh compared to May. Higher temperatures, combined with higher tourism industry-related demand, played a role in this rise.

Overall, the average SMP for the first half of 2017 rose considerably compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, gaining 23.965 percent. A year-on-year rise of 15.695 percent was registered for the four-month period covering March to June.

‘Comparable’ standard format bills needed, LAGIE head says

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needs to take an initiative leading to standard format electricity bills issued by all electricity suppliers, which would make cost comparisons easier for consumers, Michalis Filippou, president and managing director of LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, has noted.

Various costs incorporated into electricity bills – electricity purchase procedures (forward, day-ahead, intraday and balancing); transmission and distribution surcharge costs paid to IPTO, the power grid operator and HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator; subsidy costs (RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge and YKO public service compensation); taxes (EFK special consumption tax and VAT); municipal duties; and ERT public radio and television support costs – all need to be presented in standard format electricity bills issued by all suppliers, according to the LAGIE chief.

This will enable all consumers – household, business and industrial – to identify true electricity costs and make swifter and clearer comparisons, Filippou pointed out.


More consumers relying on night-zone electricity tariffs

Feeling the financial strain of the country’s ongoing recession, a growing number of consumers are turning to lower-cost night-zone electricity to help make ends meet, market data shows.

In 2016, the number of applications submitted by consumers for installation of off-peak power meters rose by 20 percent compared to the previous year, HEDNO (Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator) data showed.

This trend has continued into 2017 for a rise at a similar rate of around 20 percent, year-to-year, data collected so far has indicated.

However, consumers have expressed some frustration over alleged delays by authorities, said to be responding slowly to applications made for off-peak power meter installations.

In the colder months of the year, night-zone electricity tariffs are available from November 1 to April 30 (02:00-08:00 and 15:00-17:00) for consumers linked to the mainland grid and islands linked to the mainland grid. The off-peak zones for non-interconencted islands are available 02:00-08:00 and 15:00-17:00. During the warmer months, or between May 1 and October 31, off-peak tariffs are available between 23:00 and 07:00. HEDNO is responsible for setting these time periods.

Besides the main power utility PPC, lower night-zone electricity tariffs are now also offered by most independent suppliers.

NOME loopholes to be fixed in extra time made available

A one-week extension granted to the year’s third NOME auction, originally scheduled for July 12, will be utilized by authorities for fine-tuning of the next session’s terms.

A lower starting price of 32.05 euros per MWh has been set for the July 19 session, based on a proposal forwarded by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, while a related joint ministerial decision that needs to be issued by the energy and finance ministries is expected to be pubished in the government gazette any day now, possibly even today.

According to sources, LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, deems that no further revisions are needed and, as a result, is preparing to forward the terms that had been endorsed for the preceding sessions to RAE for approval.

However, officials at RAE have a different opinion and believe that certain corrections are needed so as to prevent a repeat of events at the previous NOME auction when one participant, late in the session, exploited the terms to secure electricity amounts at the starting price, thereby paying less than other bidders had earlier in the day. It appears that the loophole exploited for this development will now be rectified. RAE is expected to order LAGIE to make the necessary corrections.

The aforementioned development occurred as particpants were able to revise their orders placed during the session.

The auction’s terms submitted by LAGIE need to be endorsed by RAE, meaning that the revisions expected by the latter authority must be made before procedures can go ahead.

The NOME auctions were introduced last October to offer third parties access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydrocarbon sources.

Establishment of energy bourse to split market operator LAGIE

The establishment of a Greek energy bourse promises to lead to structural changes at LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, including a company split separating its market-related tasks.

The prospective development was pointed out yesterday at a conference organized by LAGIE and titled Energy Bourse and Electricity Market Developments. The issue is currently being examined by authorities. Decisions have yet to be taken.

LAGIE’s president and managing director Michalis Filippou, speaking at the event, noted that all necessary measures will need to be taken to protect existing jobs at the operator, while adding that it is still too early to discuss specific plans.

Participants expressed confidence that all procedures concerning the establishment of the energy bourse would be completed on time, despite a tight scheduled faced by the country.

LAGIE is currently also responsible for services not related to the market, which is preventing the operator from focusing on vital tasks, Dr. Alex Papalexopoulos, the head official at ECCO International Inc., an experienced US-based global energy consulting and software company, told the conference. ECCO is a key supporter of LAGIE’s effort to establish an energy bourse.

LAGIE will need to sharpen its focus amid changing market conditions, it was pointed out at the conference. An appropriate plan will need to be found so as to enable LAGIE to establish a proper functioning energy bourse that will not only represent the local electricity market but also expand to cover the natural gas and emissions markets as well.

Also participating at the event, Pantelis Kapros, a professor at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and a former president of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, noted that LAGIE could acquire a larger equity base involving the participation of numerous banks.


Volterra permitted to keep paying half surcharge amount until final verdict

An Athens Court of First Instance has permitted electricity supplier Volterra to continue paying 50 pecent of an electricity supplier surcharge, based on a preceding temporary court decision, until a final verdict is delivered within the next few months.

Volterra had filed a case against LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, seeking protection from higher-than-expected surcharge payments, used to eliminate the RES special account.

Four other electricity suppliers, Elpedison, Protergia, Heron and Watt+Volt, had also filed separate cases against LAGIE but these were eventually withdrawn.

The issue emerged when supplier surcharge amounts, revised weekly, skyrocketed and prompted reactions from suppliers. In January, main power utility PPC, the market’s dominant supplier, decided to stop paying LAGIE its share of the surcharge, determined by market shares.

A month later, independent suppliers followed suit and, in addition, took legal action, fearing they could be removed from the electricity suppliers’ registry, as is specified by market regulations. PPC did not fear such a prospect as it controls nearly 90 percent of Greece’s retail electricity market.

Authorities needed to intervene after the supplier surcharge rose well over anticipated levels. The surcharge level has since subsided.

In the first week of May, the surcharge registered 7.1 euros per MWh, followed by 7.01 euros per MWh in the month’s second week. Such levels were anticipated in a related study conducted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki prior to the surcharge’s introduction last October.



PPC supplier surcharge arrears may be offset by PV outlays

An accumulating electricity supplier surcharge amount owed by main power utility PPC could be offset by amounts paid by the utility to RES producers maintaining roof-mounted PV systems. PPC is obligated to provide RES producers payments in advance before receiving delayed payments from LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, which cover these respective amounts, according to sources.

PPC has refused to pay its share of an electricity supplier surcharge to LAGIE since the beginning of this year, depriving, as a result, the operator’s RES special account of 75 million euros.

In response, independent electricity suppliers, whose supplier surcharge obligations are lower as a result of their smaller retail electricty market shares, are contributing 50 percent of their respective shares, based on a court ruling, until a solution to PPC’s noncompliance is found.

This 50-percent contribution by independent electricity suppliers sufficed when the supplier surcharge, which is revised weekly, had shot up to extreme levels early in the year, but is insufficient now that the surcharge level has returned to reasonable levels. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needed to intervene and set an upper limit.

The supplier surcharge has since returned to levels averaging between 6 and 7 euros per MWh, as had been anticipated in a related study conducted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

LAGIE has maintained a tolerant stance against PPC, taking into account the utility’s serious cash flow problems, caused by an alarming level of unpaid receivables, enerypress sources have informed.



Market operator’s upcoming supplier surcharge amounts may trouble PPC

LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, will, at the end of this month, calculate and invoice total surcharge amounts expected from electricity suppliers for March plus any outstanding amounts since October 1, 2016, when the supplier surcharge was introduced.

These calculations, issued monthly, as required by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, factor in an upper limit of 15 euros per MWh.

Independent suppliers more or less know what to expect, given the monthly amounts already covered, but the surcharge amount could provide yet another challenge for PPC, facing cash flow issues as well as bailout-related market share contraction and production unit sale requirements.

The utility decided to stop paying the surcharge at the beginning of this year before RAE stepped in to take action. Even so, PPC appears to have been underpaying its expected surcharge amounts.

The respective retail electricity market shares of suppliers are taken into account when determining surcharge levels. This means that PPC, which still maintains a dominant market share of just under 90 percent, is responsible for suppling the bulk of the surcharge.

Surcharge levels moved within normal range in March, as had been initially calculated by an Aristotle University of Thessaloniki study conducted prior to the surcharge’s introduction.

The surcharge averaged 6.59 euros per MWh between March 1 and 19 with the upper limited imposed. Without it, the average would have been just marginally higher, at 6.94 euros per MWh.

Authorities needed to impose an upper limit after the electricity supplier surcharge level greatly exceeded anticipated levels. The surcharge averaged 8.83 euros per MWh in February with the upper limit intact. Had it not been imposed, that month’s average would have reached 24.32 euros per MWh.

PV groups opt to file RES payment delay cases against operator, PPC

SPEF and PSAF, both photovoltaic producer associations, have requested their representative lawyers to take legal action on their behalf against LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and the main power utility PPC over delayed payments to PV producers for output, board members of the two associations have informed energypress.

Both PV associations recently chose to suspend plans for legal action following a meeting with PPC chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, who promised PV production payment delays would be dealt with. This expectation, however, failed to come through, prompting the associations to end their waiting periods and order legal action.

The PV associations intend to accuse LAGIE of delaying planned legal challenges against the electricity market operators IPTO and HEDNO, both subsidiaries of the main power utility PPC.

As for PPC, the PV associations, in their legal challenges, will accuse the power utility of withholding RES-supporting surcharge payments received through electricity bills. The PV associations will argue that PPC is not relaying these RES-supporting amounts to IPTO and HEDNO, part of the process before the amounts reach LAGIE, but instead using the money for other utility needs, which, ultimately, is depriving RES producers of entitled payments.

The two associations estimate RES-supporting amounts that have been collected by PPC but not relayed to IPTO and HEDNO – before being passed on to LAGIE and the RES producers – at around 350 to 400 million euros.



Energy cooperatives draft bill expected next month

Legal framework to permit the establishment of energy cooperatives, a move essentially offering energy consumers the right to become shareholders in ventures, is being swiftly prepared by the energy ministry, working closely with RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, and KAPE, the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving.

A range of officials dealing with economic, technical, scientific and other aspects are contributing to the preparations. The draft bill is expected to be ready for Parliament next month.

Besides launch and operating regulations concerning energy cooperatives, the draft bill in the making is also expected to encourage the participation of local communities. According to energypress sources, it will enable two types of energy cooperatives, local energy communities and renewable energy communities.

Local energy communities will be able to develop and lease distribution networks, while renewable energy communities will be able to produce, consume, store and sell renewable energy without being subject to disproportionate charges that do not reflect actual costs.

The government intends to incorporate its energy cooperatives initiative into its social policy by promoting the option as a form of protection for small investors against bigger players.

Market officials believe the energy cooperatives could reignite investment activity in the RES sector and also offer support to market tools such as net metering, virtual net metering and smart power meters.

Energy cooperatives already exist in a number of European countries, including Germany, Belgium and Denmark.


Authorities identify misuse of NOME order electricity amounts

Certain NOME auction participants appear to have misused electricity amounts acquired through the recently introduced auction procedure, according to LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

NOME auctions were introduced last October in an effort to break the main power utility PPC’s market dominance by offering independent traders access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources.

Low usage rates for NOME auction orders identified by LAGIE raised suspicions that certain auction participants may have acquired electricity amounts for reasons other than those intended by the auction mechanism’s design.

These participants are suspected of having overstated actual electricity amounts ordered with the aim of manipulating daily energy schedule clearance rates.

According to RAE, data provided by LAGIE showed unusual discrepancies, especially during low-demand periods. Average usage tariffs displayed major fluctuations measuring as much as 60 percent in some cases.

Covering the time period between December 1 and January 12, these unusual patterns concern electricity amounts offered through last October’s inaugural NOME auction.

In response, RAE, backed by LAGIE, has decided to make revisions to the NOME auction regulations.


PPC cites unpaid receivables for delayed operator payments

The leadership of main power utility PPC, summoned to a hearing yesterday by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has attributed its payment delays to electricity market operators, needed by the operators to cover RES production payments, to a cash flow problem prompted by the enormous amount of unpaid receivables owed to the utility by consumers.

PPC is behind on its payments to the IPTO and HEDNO operators, both utility subsidiaries, who, in turn, are unable to relay amounts to LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, which distributes payments to RES producers for their electricity output.

HEDNO, locally acronymed DEDDIE, which handles payments to RES producers on the non-interconnected islands, has been summoned to a hearing by RAE next week, while IPTO is expected to follow suit soon after.

RAE suspects that PPC may be withholding RES-supporting surcharges collected through electricity bills to finance its own concerns, including investment programs and payments to suppliers.


LAGIE taking legal action against operators over RES payment delays

LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, is taking legal action against the electricity market operators IPTO and HEDNO, both subsidiaries of the main power utility PPC, over unpaid overdue amounts, energypress sources have informed.

IPTO owes LAGIE a total of 575 million euros while HEDNO, locally acronymed DEDDIE, owes the plaintiff 125 million euros.

In an unprecedented move, LAGIE is not only demanding the aforementioned unpaid receivables but interest charges for payment delays over the past five years.

LAGIE’s legal action is being backed by two photovoltaic producer associations, SPEF and PSAF.

Less than a fortnight ago, SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, applied pressure on LAGIE to take action against IPTO and HEDNO. The association, through an extrajudicial initiative, warned it would file charges against LAGIE if the latter did not proceed with legal action against IPTO and HEDNO.

Photovoltaic electricity producers have yet to receive payments for production delivered last July. Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is believed to have promised a 100 million-euro payment from PPC to LAGIE concerning last July’s production by yesterday. However, until late yesterday, this money has yet to come through, sources informed. RES-supporting surcharges on electricity bills are relayed through operators before reaching producers.


Independent suppliers protected by court restraining order against LAGIE

A Court of First Instance has issued a restraining order that forbids LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, from expelling five independent electricity supply companies from the Suppliers Registry until a final verdict is delivered in March, under the condition that the five suppliers, which filed cases, cover 50 percent of supplier surcharge amounts charged by the operator to support the RES sector.

Today’s decision ensures that the five independent electricity suppliers, Volterra, Elpedison, Protergia, Heron and Watt + Volt will remain protected against the threat of being expelled from the sector registry or any other consequences until the final verdict.

The five took separate legal action after the main power utility PPC refused to pay its surcharge share for January, which reached 120 million euros. The utility forwarded a letter to LAGIE stating it would stop paying the surcharge.

On the contrary, the independent suppliers covered their surcharge amounts for January and, just days ago, received invoices for February.

Volterra was the first of the five suppliers to take legal action and the others followed suit.

According to the sector’s regulations, electricity suppliers can be expelled from the registry if they fail to pay expected amounts to the market operator. Expelling PPC is unimaginable as the utility controls nearly 90 percent of the retail electricity market.


Independent suppliers not content with surcharge idea

A proposal by LAGIE, the electricity market operator, to impose an upper limit of 8 euros per MWh on the RES-supporting surcharge paid by electricity suppliers is expected to spark a fiery public consultation procedure, staged by the operator, as independent electricity suppliers deem such a level to be too high to allow for fair electricity market conditions and profitable business activity.

Independent electricity supply company officials told energypress that any supplier surcharge price that exceeds 5 euros per MWh prevents the electricity market from operating rationally given the worsening market conditions. Negative developments include the high prices generated for electricity purchases by independent suppliers at last week’s second NOME auction and the high System Marginal Prices (SMP) – representing wholesale prices – anticipated for 2017.

As energypress has previously noted, LAGIE’s proposal will not necessarily be adopted as is, without revisions.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, ltimately responsible for making a final decision, will wait for the public consultation procedure to be finalized before deciding at a board meeting scheduled for February 16.

The absence of a surcharge upper limit makes it impossible for electricity supply companies to shape pricing policies as they are constantly faced by the danger of unexpected surcharge fluctuations which affect finances and sustainability.


RAE examining new action to combat high supplier surcharge

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is examining a new round of intervention in an effort to combat major electricity market problems caused by inflated electricity supplier surcharges paid into the RES special account maintained by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator.

Though a 40-euro per MW upper limit imposed as an initial measure to deal with the higher-than-expected electricity supplier surcharge has produced results, it has not quite managed to prevent high surcharge levels. They are revised weekly.

RAE has requested LAGIE to reexamine a formula applied to determine surcharge levels. Developments are expected within the current week.

The findings are expected to serve as the basis for RAE’s new and revised solution, the objective being to normalize surcharge levels paid by electricity suppliers. The upper limit is expected to be lowered further, while the virtual daily energy supply schedule – not including RES contributions – will also be revised.

These moves are intended to lower the electricity supplier surcharge to a more reasonable level of roughly 7.5 euros per MWh.

The energy ministry is also considering tabling an amendment setting standard upper and lower limits, based on prevailing market prices. Such a move, however, would transform the surcharge into a tax.

Suppliers react against lofty RES-supporting surcharge

The persisting high level of a RES-supporting surcharge imposed on electricity suppliers, resisting recent measures taken by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, in an effort to subdue its upward trajectory, has prompted an extraordinary meeting for today at the energy ministry. Officials from RAE and LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, will participate.

The surcharge, which is revised weekly, reached a lofty 30 euros per MWh last week, despite the RAE revisions to a formula determining its level.

Putting this figure into context, its rise to 30 euros per MWh, 25 euros per MWh over the 5 euros per MWh originally anticipated, can be estimated to increase the annual cost of major-scale electricity suppliers by roughly 40 million euros.

When independent electricity suppliers are believed to be shooting for net profits of around 5 million euros per annum, such figures are nonsensical and make their ventures pointless.

The main power utility PPC, the electricity market’s dominant player with a market share just under 90 percent, is refraining from paying its supplier surcharge to LAGIE, an entity launched by the utility itself. This amount is believed to represent just a fraction of the total sum owed by PPC to LAGIE.

According to sources, virtually all of the independent electricity suppliers have reacted against RAE’s supplier surcharge formula as well as PPC’s refusal to contribute its expected amounts, which are injected into the RES special account. The independent electricity suppliers argue that these factors are affecting competition and undermining the electricity market’s liberalization process.

Contrary to PPC, the independent electricity suppliers are requested to remain punctual with their surcharge payments, as has been the case, or risk being removed from the sector’s register.

“We have asked LAGIE to take temporary measures and also informed the energy ministry of the situation, whose repercussions to the market’s liberalization threaten to be painful,” a market official told energypress.

PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, speaking yesterday at a ceremonial company event for the New Year, also expressed doubts about the formula being applied to determine supplier surcharge amounts, noting reappraisal is needed.



LAGIE to propose lower, upper limits on supplier surcharge

LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, now finalizing a study focused on the electricity supplier surcharge introduced last summer through a new RES-sector legal framework, is expected to present its proposals within the current week. The surcharge has risen well above expected levels, prompting market concerns.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will use these results to revise a formula determining the surcharge, which offers financial support to the RES special account.

The authority has pledged to deliver its revised formula by the end of February, when a recently imposed upper limit of 40 euros per MWh concerning the electricity suppliers surcharge expires.

The energy ministry plans to stage a meeting this week to focus on the LAGIE proposal. RAE and LAGIE officials will participate.

Electricity suppliers have forwarded letters to both the ministry and RAE, highlighting the danger of a market collapse should the specific surcharge persist at higher-than-expected levels.

Latest data shows that RAE’s upper limit did produce results but not to the required degree.

According to energypress sources, LAGIE will propose the implementation of fixed lower and upper surcharge levels, one euro below and above an average level of 7.55 euros per MWh.

In the third week of January, covering January 16 to 22, the surcharge, revised weekly, averaged 23.78 euros per MWh with the upper limit in place. Without the upper limit, the surcharge level would have reached 33.09 euros per MWh. The surcharge level averaged 18.08 euros per MWh between January 1 and 22 and would have struck 32.96 euros per MWh without the price ceiling.

Had the upper limit been introduced earlier, last October’s average of 4.40 euros per MWh would have been slightly lowered to 4.28 euros per MWh, November’s surcharge average of 10.62 euros per MWh would have fallen to 6.93 euros per MWh, and December’s surcharge average of 15.58 euros per MWh would have dropped to 9.83 euros per MWh.


PV investors prepare action against PPC over its bank concessions

Local renewable energy producers, especially ones active in the solar power sector, fear that concessions made earlier this week by the main power utility PPC to the country’s four main banks in order to appease their concerns, as creditors, over the financial effects of the utility’s bailout required split and sale of subsidiary IPTO, the power grid operator, will further worsen the utility’s troubled payment record to LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, which relays amounts to the RES producers.

PPC owes several hundred million euros to IPTO, which, in turn, owes amounts to LAGIE, responsible for the operation and settlement of the energy market in Greece as well as daily energy scheduling. Consequently, LAGIE has fallen roughly five-and-a-half months behind on its payments to RES producers. At present, LAGIE owes a total of 750 million euros to RES producers.

According to energypress sources, RES investors are gearing up for out-of-court action, even court action, against LAGIE over the payment delays. Given the prospect, LAGIE is now under pressure to take action against PPC.

In comments offered to energypress, a RES sector official stated that PPC’s guarantees cannot be limited to the banks and not include utility creditors waiting for overdue payments. The official added that if PPC’s supply contracts with major industrial consumers – meaning the earnings generated – are transferred to banks as a guarantee, then the utility’s cash flow will further weaken and negatively impact the aforementioned chain of payments.

New wind energy project deals to start being signed

Despite bureaucratic delays, new wind energy project agreements are expected to start being signed as of next week between LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and investors who had submitted applications for licenses prior to an end-of-year deadline in order to avoid needing to take part in auctions for tariff agreements.

A staff shortage at the operator has severely delayed the processing of applications, sources told energypress.

The deadline for the signing of new agreements concerning these applications, numbering roughly 160 wind energy projects, has been shifted to February 28, the energy ministry has announced.

Applicants for prospective wind energy projects totaling 500 MW secured a tariff level of 98 euros per MWh by submitting documents before the end-of-year deadline, sparing them of the need to take part in auctions for tariff agreements, as is the case for applications submitted from January 1 onwards.

In addition to these project applications, a further lot, amounting to roughly 400 MW, concerns licenses granted to investors for wind energy facilities in southern Evia, Greece’s second-largest island just northeast of Athens.

These Evia project applicants have been granted extensions until the end of February to submit the respective costs for their ventures of an underwater cable connection linking Evia with the mainland, in coastal Nea Makri, northeast of Athens. These projects will also be granted tariffs of 98 euros per MWh.


RAE to clamp down on PPC over unpaid operator amounts

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, plans to take firm action against the main power utility PPC for accumulated debt owed to IPTO, the power grid operator, and HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, which the utility contends it has not been able to pay as a result of a cashflow problem caused by the large amount of unpaid electricity bills owed by consumers to PPC.

RAE is being forced to intervene as PPC’s debt to IPTO and HEDNO, both PPC subsidiaries, threatens their operational ability and, consequently, the energy market as a whole.

Both operators have forwarded protests, while IPTO has also taken legal action, prompting RAE to closely monitor PPC’s overall payment activity in search of a solution.

RAE has been investigating whether PPC is retaining surcharges meant to be relayed to HEDNO, locally acronymed DEDDIE, and IPTO, and using these withheld amounts to cover other needs, such as its own investment program.

Energypress sources have informed that the regulatory authority has detected improper actions by PPC, based on data provided by the utility at the request of RAE.

The same sources informed that PPC’s overdue amounts owed to HEDNO amount to around 200 millon euros. Island-based RES producers are consequently being deprived of payments for electricity provided to the grid.

The utility is believed to owe roughly 300 million euros to IPTO, but the operator also owes an amount to PPC, which, if offset, reduces the amount owed by PPC to IPTO to approximately 150 million euros. PPC’s failure to pay IPTO is, by extension, depriving LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, which, in turn, is being forced to drastically delay payments to RES producers.


Independent firms hold over 30% of mid-voltage market

Though some 136,000 of the country’s roughly seven million power meter connections are now supplied by independent electricity firms, representing just 2 percent, the actual quantitative amount reaches a much higher 12.01 percent market share as the independent firms are generally supplying larger-scale consumers. Highlighting this detail, over 30 percent of Greece’s medium-voltage consumers are supplied by independent electricity firms.

Market data for November, provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, showed that Elpedison supplies 51,300 power meter connections, of which 50,900 concern low-voltage consumption and 330 the medium voltage category.

Protergia ranked second among the independent firms, supplying 37,300 meters, 36,600 of these in the low-voltage category and 640 in the medium-voltage category.

Watt & Volt followed with 21,500 power meters supplying 21,400 low-voltage consumers and 62 medium-voltage consumers.

Heron is next on the list with 14,100 power meters (13,400 in low-voltage and 672 in medium voltage).

Green was listed as supplying 4,200 power meters (4,100 low-voltage and 70 medium-voltage).

NRG supplied 2,900 power meters (2,700 low-voltage and 174 medium-voltage).

Volterra followed with 2,700 power meters (2,600 low-voltage and 92 medium-voltage).

OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications) came next with 1,700 power meters, all medium-voltage connections. ELTA (Hellenic Post) supplied 650 power meters (639 low-voltage and 11 medium-voltage). Titan Cements supplied 25 power meters (3 low-voltage and 22 medium-voltage).


Latter date for next NOME auction being examined

A proposal by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, to shift forward the scheduled date of Greece’s next NOME auction from November 15 to within December or the first quarter of 2017 is being examined by RAE, Regulatory Authority for Energy.

A total electricity amount of 675 MWh will be auctioned in 2017 should a 135 MWh amount that had been scheduled for November be offered next year.

The 675 MWh total will be offered through four auctions, beginning with November’s rescheduled 135 MWh amount. Three other auctions are scheduled for 2017, a February 14 session offering 140 MWh, a May 16 auction offering 200 MWh and a July 11 session to provide a further 200 MWh.

The LAGIE proposal has been forwarded for a public consultation procedure to end on November 11.

The NOME auctions, introduced last month with an offering of 460 MWh, are intended to provide third parties with access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources as a measure to help break the utility’s market dominance.

RAE officials are concerned that a new electricity amount just twenty days after the inaugural NOME auction may not be necessary as suppliers have yet to fully absorb their previous amounts. Authorities fear this short time span between sessions increases the risk of a subdued turnout for the second auction.


Payment delays for RES producers back up to 5 months

Payment delays for renewable energy (RES) producers, provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, have exceeded five months since summer following a period of relative stability during which producers feeding the grid were being paid for RES output three to four months after issuing invoices.

The slowdown in payments has been even greater for RES producers on non-interconnected islands, who, until now, were enjoying far more punctual payment schedules, receiving their payments no more than two months after submitting their output details. The authority distributing payments for non-interconnected island RES producers, HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator is now also taking at least five months to make payments, an unprecedented delay period.

According to SPEF, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers, the slowdown is linked to a main power utility PPC decision on how to offset debt amounts with its wholly owned subsidiary, IPTO, the power grid operator, now undergoing a bailout-required sale process.

SPEF has reported that, since August, PPC has ceased providing IPTO the RES-supporting ETMEAR surcharge amounts included on electricity bills, portions of which are relayed for RES producer payments.

PPC has also stopped paying HEDNO, locally acronymed DEDDIE, which has made it impossible for the latter to meet electricity producer payments.

As has been the case in the past, affected RES producers are in despair as to how to cover various commitments including tax, bank, social security and business operation payments, not to mention household needs.