PPC energy outlay falls €886m, key to strong 3Q results

A decreasing reliance on lignite-fired power stations, nowadays an extremely costly generation option as a result of high-priced CO2 emission rights; lower wholesale electricity prices; and a drop in diesel and natural gas prices reduced power utility PPC’s energy expenses by 885.6 million euros in the nine-month period, to 1.4 billion euros from approximately 2.1 billion euros in the equivalent period a year earlier, the power utility has reported.

This cost reduction, spearheaded by chief executive Giorgos Stassis and his administration, played an important role in favorable results announced yesterday.

PPC’s liquid fuel expenses fell by 33 percent to 357.5 million euros during this year’s nine-month period as a result of the corporation’s lower liquid fuel-based generation as well as lower mazut and diesel prices.

The nine-month natural gas outlay for PPC also fell significantly, by 41.8 percent, to 206 million euros from 353.7 million euros, as a result of a 42.4 percent drop in natural gas prices.

PPC’s CO2 emission right expenses fell to 263.1 million euros in the nine-month period, from 406.9 million euros in the equivalent period of 2019, as a result of the company’s reduced emission levels, down to 10.9 million tons from 17.9 million tons.

The power utility’s lignite-based generation during the nine-month period dropped by 50.6 percent year-on-year.

PPC appears to have given space to rival electricity producers in the nine-month period, while increasing its operating profit, despite a retail market share contraction to 69.3 percent from 76 percent a year earlier.

Lower-cost gas may save PPC an estimated €100m this year

The sharp drop in energy product prices, pressured by the coronavirus outbreak and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, promises major and unexpected financial relief for power utility PPC.

The plunge of gas prices, alone, should benefit the Greek power utility by an estimated 100 million euros this year – assuming this drop is not ephemeral.

In the first half of 2019, PPC’s total purchasing cost for natural gas reached 222.5 million euros, a 57.1 percent increase.

In the liquid fuels category, PPC’s purchase expenses were also elevated, reaching 319.7 million euros, as a result of higher prices paid for mazut and diesel used by the utility at power stations on non-interconnected islands. To the delight of PPC, mazut and diesel prices are also tumbling.

Electricity tariff hikes made by PPC last September as well as a revised payback plan offering consumers greater incentive to service electricity-bill arrears through monthly installments are both producing favorable results.

A series of memorandums of cooperation, such as an agreement signed this week with Germany’s RWE, all promising dynamic penetration into Greece’s renewable energy market, offer further potential for PPC.

However, the power utility still faces an uphill struggle along its road to recovery. PPC’s financial results for 2019 will be announced in April.