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.

 

 

 

Energy privatizations exceed forecasts, raising nearly €3bn

Two major energy-sector privatizations whose bidding procedures were completed last week, the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure and 49 percent sale of electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations, resulting in total revenue, from both sales, of 2.849 billion euros, well over initial projections of 2.2 billion euros.

Australian fund Macquarie’s 2.116 billion-euro winning offer for 49 percent of DEDDIE/HEDNO, being offered without managerial control, stands as a record sum for Greek privatizations.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO sale’s amount will be used by power utility PPC, the parent company, for network modernization, RES growth, and improved customer services.

Italy’s Italgas secured 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure with an improved follow-up offer of 733 million euros. Thus sum is expected to exceed 800 million euros once the buyer’s bid for a 49 percent stake in distributor EDA THESS, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas, is submitted and added to the tally.

According to the DEPA Infrastructure sale’s terms, the winning bidder must also purchase EDA THESS’s 49 percent stake, held by Italy’s Eni gas e Luce, wanting to sell.

The favorable outcomes of the two privatizations highlight the country’s improving investment climate as well as the confidence of foreign institutional and strategic investors in the prospects of the Greek economy, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted. This improvement is also confirmed by yet another upgrade of the Greek economy, this time by Scope Rating, he added.

Besides signaling good news for the Greek economy, the DEDDIE/HEDNO and DEPA Infrastructure privatizations also send an upbeat message on the prospects of the domestic energy market.

 

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 targeted campaign to stop outflow of positive-profile customers

Power utility PPC is preparing a strategy that will offer customers personalized service reflecting their profiles and particular needs in an attempt to contain departures for other suppliers and boost profit performance.

PPC intends to develop targeted marketing campaigns as part of its effort, the objective being to hold on to customers with favorable track records and profiles, as well as to promote the sale of value-added products.

The PPC strategy is expected to include rewards for loyal customers with favorable track records.

Collaborative efforts with third parties offering telephone and electronic customer service are also being looked into.

Company divisions to take on the overall effort will need specialized, external support, PPC’s administration has concluded.

Energy bill unpaid receivables set to rebound, survey shows

The level of energy bill unpaid receivables appears destined to rise again, a survey conducted by GSEVEE, the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants, has shown.

According to its results, 16.5 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises have warned they will not be able to meet energy bill demands over the next six months.

This figure is slightly higher than the 15.2 percent of enterprises that have left behind bad debt for energy suppliers, meaning the overall level of unpaid receivables appears headed for a new rise.

The GSEVEE survey reported even more worrying results from the hospitality sector as it showed that roughly one in three eateries, or 30.9 percent, declared they expect to not be able to cover electricity or natural gas bills over the next six months.

Recent energy cost increases by suppliers and the threat of further hikes as a result of a combination of various factors in international markets threaten to place energy consumers under even greater pressure.

The energy cost hikes will have a knock-on effect throughout the market, increasing food, raw material and fuel prices, and, as a result, reducing disposable incomes and making payment of energy bills even more demanding.

The unpaid receivables issue that has troubled the domestic market over the past decade or so of recession had begun easing off prior to the pandemic.

Power utility PPC, holding the lion’s share of the retail electricity market, has carried the heaviest unpaid receivables burden, which, at one point, had even exceeded three billion euros.

 

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.

 

Big week for energy privatizations, approaching finales

It is a big week for the country’s energy privatizations with gas company DEPA Infrastructure’s tender set to reach a concluding stage tomorrow and that of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO also approaching its finale as its binding bids are scheduled to be opened on Friday.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company and the third largest in Europe, has, according to sources, submitted the highest bid in the DEPA Infrastructure sale, offering an 100 percent stake, and is the only bidder to which the privatization fund TAIPED has extended a request for an improved offer, by tomorrow.

The Italgas offer is believed to be close to 700 million euros, a figure expected to rise further, and well above an offer submitted by rival bidder EPH from the Czech Republic.

As for the privatization of DEDDIE/HEDNO, a power utility PPC subsidiary, four binding offers, for a 49% stake, have been submitted by major international funds CVC Capital Partners Group, First Sentier Investors Group, KKR Group, and the Macquarie Group. This level of participation could boost bid levels. Offers of over 1.5 billion euros, or even 1.7 billion euros, could be unveiled, sources have anticipated.

The rebounding economy, potential of Greece’s energy market, as well as the statures of all five suitors involved in the two sales could result in two of the country’s most lucrative privatization agreements, in all sectors.

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.

Binding bids for HEDNO today, PPC sets ambitious target price

The sale of a 49 percent stake in power utility PPC’s subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, has reached the final stretch with at least three bidders in contention as the binding-bids deadline expires today.

US fund CVC Capital, as well as Australia’s Macquarie and First Sentier, are believed to be in the running, while the participation of KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.) remains probable.

PPC’s administration is not expected to accept anything less than 1.5 billion euros for the subsidiary’s 49 percent, a price expectation based on DEDDIE/HEDNO’s book value, estimated at 3 billion euros.

The operator’s regulated earnings for 2021 to 2024 begin at 771 million euros and reach 798 million euros in 2024.

The financial offers by bidders are not expected to be opened today but will remain under wraps until all other details (legal, technical) of the offers have been fully examined.

Once the binding bids have been submitted, PPC will call an extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting for the sale’s approval. PPC’s objective is to have completed this partial privatization by the end of the year.

 

Lignite area €5bn upgrade plan presented at cabinet meeting

The planned upgrade of Greece’s lignite-dependent areas – an effort of unprecedented domestic ambition budgeted at 5 billion euros that includes emblematic projects such as a hydrogen-producing facility, the country’s first; major-scale telethermal units; a 155-km natural gas pipeline in the north;  major-scale solar farms, including a 200-MW solar farm in Kozani being developed by Mytilineos for PPC Renewables; and the norther section of the E65 highway – will be presented at a cabinet meeting today.

A related draft bill includes provisions for the establishment of a special purpose vehicle for the overall effort, named Metavasi SA, meaning transition. The SPV will take over 16,400 hectares of power utility PPC’s lignite-related land, including fixed assets, except for property to be kept by the utility for its own green investments.

This transfer of 16,400 hectares represents 66 percent of PPC’s total land assets, currently measuring 24,700 hectares.

The Metavasi SPV will assume responsibility for the upgrade of the 16,400 hectares of land, currently hosting PPC lignite mines and lignite-fired power stations.

 

PPC borrowing cost cut further with new bond loan agreement

Power utility PPC has signed a new bond loan agreement for an amount of 300 million euros involving Alpha Bank as well as participation from Eurobank.

The loan amount, to be used for general business purposes, will have a three-year duration with an option for a further two-year extension.

More specifically, PPC plans to utilize the amount as working capital in the context of measures taken by the company to ensure and reinforce its cash flow in the short term.

The bond loan agreement includes a series of conditions including a clause committing PPC to a 40 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by December, 2022, compared to 2019.

According to sources, the new bond loan agreement has a lower interest than levels achieved by PPC in recent bond issues.

PPC’s most recent bond issue, last month, was offered at an interest rate down to 3.375 percent.

The success of PPC’s preceding bond issues was instrumental in the company’s negotiations with banks for a further reduction in its borrowing costs.

 

Power producer LNG orders unaffected by higher gas prices

Increased natural gas prices in international markets have not restrained LNG imports at gas grid operator DESFA’s Revythoussa islet terminal just off Athens, data provided by the operator has shown.

LNG orders at the Revythoussa terminal for the two-month period covering August and September, placed primarily by power producers, seeking international market opportunities to subdue fuel costs, as well as gas company DEPA, total more than 742,000 cubic meters, the DESFA data showed.

This quantity represents six LNG tanker loads, ordered by as many key domestic natural gas market players for the two-month period.

Two loads, the first for power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas, and the second for Elpedison, arrived during the first half of August. A third tanker carrying LNG orders placed by Mytilineos and Heron will follow this month, bringing August’s LNG orders total at the Revythoussa terminal to 376,000 cubic meters.

Three more LNG shipments are scheduled to arrive at the Revythoussa facility in September. The first of these concerns orders placed by PPC and Motor Oil Hellas totaling 146,000 cubic meters. The second shipment will be for a 73,000-cubic meter order placed by DEPA, while the third concerns a 147,000-cubic meter order made by Elpedison.

Natural gas prices have remained high in international markets, currently about triple the price of levels in March.

Listed players plan 16 GW in RES projects worth €16bn

Greece’s listed energy groups, alone, plan to invest a total amount of 16 billion euros over the next decade for the development of green energy projects representing over 16 GW, big figures highlighting the anticipated dominance of the green energy market in the years to come as the country transitions to cleaner energy sources and decarbonizes.

Investments are already anticipated in mature RES technologies, namely wind and solar energy facilities, while, once market and regulatory conditions allow, major investments will be made in energy storage as well as offshore wind farms.

Terna Energy, market leader in Greece’s RES market, plans to reach an installed capacity of 3,000 MW in the next five years. The company, the biggest wind energy player in Greece and southeast Europe, is currently developing wind energy projects representing 400 MW while a further 63 projects are nearing maturity.

Power utility PPC is making impressive RES market progress through its subsidiary PPC Renewables. PPC, according to the company’s updated business plan, will make investments totaling 3.4 billion euros until 2023, 34 percent of this amount concerning RES investments.

Green energy is also a key aspect in the Mytilineos group’s investment plans over the next few years. Its solar energy projects portfolio, representing 1,480 MW, is one of the biggest in Greece. The company possesses 300 MW in RES projects either operating, under construction or set for construction, as well as a further 100 MW headed for final investment decisions by the end of 2021. Mytilineos also plans to develop 20 energy storage projects, each with a 50-MW capacity.

Hellenic Petoleum (ELPE), both acquiring and developing RES projects, is aiming for a 2-GW RES portfolio by 2030.

Motor Oil Hellas recently acquired 11 operating wind farms with a total 220-MW capacity as well as a 20-MW facility still under construction from private equity fund Fortress. MOH is aiming for an operating RES capacity of 364 MW by the end of 2022 as well as a medium-term RES goal of between 500 to 600 MW.

Ellaktor is planning investments worth 1 billion euros for the development of 900 MW through its partnership with Portugal’s EDPR.

Contractor Intrakat also aims to push ahead with a one billion-euro RES investment plan. The company has joined forces with Gaia Anemos, possessing wind and PV production licenses representing approximately 1 GW, plus RES expertise.

RF Energy has reached an investment decision to develop an offshore wind farm with a capacity of 498.15 MW northeast of the island Limnos. The project is budgeted at two billion euros, according to the company.

 

 

 

North Macedonia hydropower plant offers in September, PPC-Archirodon set

Power utility PPC and energy and construction firm Archirodon, in a partnership for North Macedonia’s prospective Cebren hydropower plant, at the Crna Reka river, face a mid-September deadline for binding bids.

The neighboring country’s state-owned power producer ESM, staging the tender, aims to have announced a preferred bidder by the end of the year.

The Cebren facility, planned to offer a capacity of between 333 and 458 MW and annual production of between 1,000 and 1,200 GWh, is expected to cost approximately 600 million euros.

The project is planned to be developed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with state-owned power producer ESM.

PPC and Archirodon are among nine of ten initial bidders who have qualified for the competition’s final round. The others are: ENKA-COLIN (Turkey); EDF (France); Cobra-Cobra Hidraulika (Spain); EVN-Verbund (Austria); Webuild SPA Italia-Salini (Italy); Gezhouba Group China (China); Power Construction Corporation of China (China); and Ozaltin-Yapi Merkezi (Turkey).

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.

Greece joining list of countries issuing green bonds, conditions entailed

Greece is preparing to join the growing list of countries issuing green bonds, the plan being to funnel proceeds into green projects at areas that have been affected by this summer’s extensive fires.

But the venture has its challenges and commitments. Any state or corporation accepting funds from investors for green bonds commits to specific environmental clauses.

Projects must be classified entirely eco-friendly, based on international criteria; not financed by recovery funds or the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF); and not included in any public investment programs that could widen the primary deficit.

Also, projects funded by green bonds need to have short-term completion dates of no more than two or three years.

At this stage, it remains unclear when the Greek government will move ahead with its first green bond issue.

Greek corporations, including TERNA, followed by the power utility PPC, have already issued green bonds.

PPC raised 500 million euros through a sustainability-linked bond in mid-July at an interest rate of 3.375 percent, one of the lowest ever borrowing rates secured by PPC, following a March SLB issue that provided 775 million euros.

In return, PPC has committed to a specified CO2 emission reduction of 40 percent by the end of 2022, compared to the corporation’s 2019 level, which represents a cut of 9.2 million tons, otherwise interest rate penalties will be imposed.

 

PPC loss of low-voltage customers slows down in 2Q

Data for the year’s second quarter has shown a slowdown in power utility PPC’s market share contraction rate in the low voltage category.

PPC’s reduced loss of customers in the second quarter has been primarily attributed to the utility’s modernized commercial policy and a more focused marketing strategy.

Between April and June, a total of 68,000 households and small businesses, a monthly average of just over 22,000, left PPC for other electricity suppliers, down from a monthy exit rate of between 30,000 and 35,000 over the past year and a half.

The higher exit rate of PPC customers was maintained until the end of the first quarter, when 103,000 customers left the utility over the three-month period.

PPC represented 5.1 million of the country’s 6.6 million low-voltage connections around the country in the second quarter, a 75.1 percent share.

Low-voltage customers represented by independent electricity suppliers reached the level of 1.5 million for the first time.

Among the independent suppliers, Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was at the forefront, according to second quarter data, with a 3.94 percent share, followed by Elpedison (3.67%), Heron (3.32%), Watt & Volt (2.6%), Zenith (2.48%), Volton (1.75%), NRG (1.99%), Aerio Attikis (1.5%) and Volterra (0.57%).

Grid faces new challenge today as heatwave persists

The country’s grid stands to face yet another major challenge today as electricity demand could climb to a new record level, driven up by the sustained heatwave conditions, projected to reach levels of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO projects electricity demand will reach 10,835 MW, which would be a new all-time high, following yesterday’s level of 10,662 MW.

Natural gas-fired power stations operated by power utility PPC and independent producers will once again contribute dominantly, exceeding 43 percent, according to energy exchange data.

PPC’s combined-cycle Lavrio IV will return to action today following the replacement of technical components at the unit, according to IPTO’s schedule for the day.

The overall input of renewable energy units is expected to rise marginally today, compared to previous days, and cover 16.5 percent of demand.

Electricity imports are also expected to cover 16.5 percent of demand today.

Lignite-fired power stations, including Megalopoli IV, back following repairs, are expected to represent 14.46 percent of the energy mix.

Major-scale hydropower facilities should cover a little over 9 percent of electricity demand.

The government’s crisis management team expects generation will reach required levels and, furthermore, could be boosted by greater output at wind-energy facilities as a result of stronger winds that have been forecast for today.

On the other hand, the prospect of stronger winds is unfavorable for firefighters seeking to subdue a number of fire fronts. Also, the risk of new fires is also higher. In such an event, the grid, under extreme pressure over the past ten days amid the sustained heatwave, would surely suffer further damages.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO crews are continuing efforts to restore power supply in fire-hit Varybobi, north of Athens. The northern section of Evia, northeast of Athens, and Pyrgos, northwest Peloponnese, have also been affected by power supply cuts as a result of fires in the regions.

Consumption record expected, industry on switch-off standby

Electricity consumption today is expected to exceed yesterday’s level of 10,700 MWh, a ten-year high, and reach close to 11,000 MWh, which would represent an all-time high, as the prolonged heatwave peaks.

Industrial consumers are awaiting switch-off orders from power grid operator IPTO. Up until yesterday, they had yet to receive such instructions, but a number of industrial enterprises have already switched off voluntarily, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has urged consumers to exercise restraint in electricity consumption.

Authorities are placing their hopes for grid sufficiency in strong summer breezes forecast for Thursday that should cool temperatures and significantly boost generation through the country’s wind energy facilities.

Though still too early to judge, the grid appears to have stood up to the heatwave’s challenge so far. Minor technical issues and brief outages in various parts of the wider Athens area, Larissa, central Greece, and Agrinio, in the northwest, have been reported.

Authorities remain on edge as the resilience of a largely outdated grid remains uncertain amid daily consumption levels of 9,000 to 10,000 MWh for days on end.

Lignite-generated input is playing a crucial role. It covered between 16 and 18 percent of consumption yesterday. Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired Megalopoli III power station, which has been sidelined for months as part of the country’s decarbonization phase-out plan, operated most of the day yesterday.

 

Energy minister calls emergency meeting, heatwave set to peak

Energy minister Kostas Skrekas is due to visit power grid operator IPTO’s control center in Athens today for an emergency meeting he has ordered to deal with grid sufficiency issues raised by the prolonged heatwave conditions, expected to become even more acute during the week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will participate in the emergency meeting along with the head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, and power utility PPC.

The grid is expected to face unprecedented conditions in coming days as electricity demand peaks to reach record levels, prompted by the extreme weather conditions.

The energy ministry has already urged the public to exercise restraint in electricity consumption over the next few days as a means of helping the pressured grid cope with the heatwave’s demands.

The energy minister also staged an emergency meeting yesterday morning with officials of the aforementioned energy sector companies.

Electricity demand today is expected to peak at 9,600 MW, at around 9pm, well over the average peak of 8,115 MW in the first half of 2021.

Imports, lignite, technical issue avoidance key to grid stability

The role of electricity imports, mobilization of power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations that have been sidelined for months, such as Megalopoli III, and unexpected technical failures at grid infrastructure and power stations are three key factors that will determine the performance of the country’s grid over the next few days, during which the ongoing heatwave conditions are forecast to peak and reach temperatures of as high as 45 degrees Celsius.

Power grid operator IPTO has already asked PPC to mobilize the Megalopoli III power station, a 250-MW unit headed for withdrawal and out of action over the past nine months as a result of grid saturation at the network in the Peloponnese.

But the extreme electricity demand has forced this unit’s return, highlighting the grid’s continuing dependence on lignite-fired generation during times of extreme need.

Over the past few days, lignite-based electricity has represented 16 percent of the country’s overall generation.

As for electricity imports, Greece, ideally, will need to import a few hundred MW from North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The import potential from these sources is limited to between 1,400 and 1,500 MW annually.

A new interconnection to link Nea Santa, northeastern Greece, with Bulgaria’s Maritsa area in the country’s south, designed to double the grid interconnection capacity between the two countries, will not be ready before mid-2022.

The demand response system, compensating industrial consumers when the TSO (IPTO) asks them to shift their energy usage (lower or stop consumption) during high-demand hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs, is another tool that could be activated to save and re-channel approximately 1,000 MW.

HEDNO’s Crete assets set for transfer to IPTO

An energy ministry legislative revision facilitating the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue needed for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese, has been submitted to Parliament for ratification, ending months of debate on the matter.

As of August 1, Crete’s entire package of high-voltage electricity grid assets will be transferred from power utility PPC, DEDDIE/HEDNO’s parent company, to IPTO, the new owner of these assets, taking on their operational management.

Until now, DEDDIE/HEDNO has been responsible for the management of Crete’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese.

The price IPTO will need to pay for the acquisition of these Cretan grid assets will be determined by their market value, to be calculated over two stages.

The first will reflect the regulatory value of the assets. The second, to be calculated at a latter date, will concern the evaluation of the assets transferred to IPTO by an independent, specialized appraiser to be accepted by both IPTO and PPC.

 

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.

 

Heatwave pushes up wholesale prices to over €100/MWh once again

The latest rise in temperatures, prompting further heatwave conditions around Greece, is impacting the wholesale electricity market as the average clearing price in the day-ahead market has risen again to levels of over 100 euros per MWh, following days of more subdued levels, according to energy exchange data.

The average clearing price for today is up to 103.8 euros per MWh, up from yesterday’s level of 93.47 euros per MWh and Sunday’s level of 75.34 euros per MWh.

According to the day-ahead market figures, overall electricity generation today is planned to reach 167,437,017 MWh, with lignite-fired power stations covering just 11,172 MWh, natural gas-fired power stations providing 86,541,739 MWh, hydropower facilities generating 11,829 MWh and all other RES units providing 57,894,278 MWh. Electricity imports are planned to reach 16,159,231 MWh.

Today’s electricity demand is expected to peak at 12.30pm, reaching 8,580 MW, according to data provided by IPTO, the power grid operator.

Three of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios III, Megalopoli IV and Meliti, will be brought into action today, while five of the utility’s natural gas-fired power stations, Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Komotini and Megalopoli V, will also be mobilized, along with gas-fired units operated by the independent players Heron, ENTHES, Elpedison (Thisvi), Protergia and Korinthos Power.

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.

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.