Electricity consumer switches reach 285,000 in first half

A total of 285,000 households switched electricity supplier in the first half of 2020, while less than one in eight have made the shift over the past five years, retail electricity market data made available to energypress has shown.

Since 2015, when the retail electricity market was essentially liberalized, 986,000 consumers of 7.58 million in total have switched electricity suppliers, the data showed.

This slow movement has kept power utility PPC’s retail electricity market share at relatively high levels. The corporation held a 67.61 percent share at the end of August, the data showed.

Customers who have taken the decision to switch to independent suppliers have also displayed strong loyalty. Just 144,000 electricity consumers have moved on for a second time during the five past years, according to the data.

Of the 285,000 consumers who switched suppliers in the first half, 208,000 left PPC, while nearly 35,000 ended up with a universal supply service provided by the market’s top five suppliers, at higher tariff rates, to households and small businesses rejected by their regular suppliers for unpaid bills.

 

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’s latest voluntary exit plan reaches success rate of over 80%

A total of 437 power utility PPC employees have registered for the corporation’s latest voluntary exit plan, limited to staff members over the age of 55, which makes the offer, expiring today, available to approximately 500 persons.

Based on these figures, the success rate of PPC’s latest exit plan, until yesterday, was well over 80 percent.

The total number of voluntary employee exits could reach 450 by the time the offer’s deadline expires later today.

Besides a compensation amount of 15,000 euros for each exiting employee, the program also includes 20,000-euro bonus payments, taking the total package to 35,000 euros for departing staff members.

Approximately 1,300 employees left PPC in 2019 through the voluntary exit plan. The total figure for 2020 is expected just as high, if not higher.

If so, this would take PPC over the half-way mark in its overall voluntary exit strategy. The company has set an overall target of 4,500 departures, according to the latest PPC business plan. PPC also intends to refresh by recruiting 800 new employees.

PPC’s payroll cost has fallen by 45.1 million euros, from 419.3 million to 374.2 million euros, the company announced in its first-half results.

 

GEK TERNA, Elpedison close to decisions on gas-fueled units

GEK TERNA and Elpedison are expected to announce finalized investment decisions for new gas-fueled power stations with total capacity over 1,400 MW within the next two months, energypress sources informed.

GEK TERNA plans to develop a 660-MW power station at the industrial zone of Komotini, northeastern Greece, while Elpedison, a joint venture involving Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison, intends to construct units with a total capacity of 826 MW at the ELPE facilities in Thessaloniki.

These project plans are estimated to be worth a total of at least 600 million euros.

The energy companies have already received energy production licenses as well as other licensing requirements, including environmental permits, for these prospective units, regarded as mature investment plans.

Both companies are awaiting new CAT mechanism details for gas-fueled power stations before finalizing their investment plans. The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, plus the anticipation of a second wave, are also crucial factors influencing the thinking behind these investment decisions.

Market capacity exists for new combined-cycle gas-fueled power stations during the energy transition over the next ten to 15 years, electricity market officials insist.

The planned withdrawal of power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations over the next three or so years combined with a lack of development in RES energy storage systems offers gas-fueled power generation an opportunity to cover capacity to be lost by lignite-fired power station closures.

A recent BloombergNEF report noted big natural gas-fueled power stations are not necessary. However, market officials point to the National Energy and Climate Plan as proof of the need for such units.

The Mytilineos group is developing an 826-MW CCGT in the Agios Nikolaos area of Boetia, northwest of Athens, with the aim of a launch in late-2021.

PPC lignite compensation effort key to Brussels negotiations

Greek authorities have taken to a higher European Commission level a compensation request by the state-controlled power utility PPC, seeking 200 million euros, annually, for the gradual withdrawal of its loss-incurring lignite-fired power stations between 2021 and 2023, hoping for a favorable outcome with the next two months.

If, however, the effort 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.

In this case, Greece will probably not agree to settle a long-running antitrust case that has prompted the government to offer PPC’s rivals 40 percent of the utility’s lignite-based generation until the lignite-fired power stations are withdrawn.

Greece cannot be expected to adopt a mechanism offering 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.

All issues will need to be resolved as one package deal or there will be no deal at all, sources said.

At this stage, a new European Court antitrust case against Greece, for PPC’s lignite monopoly, would make little, if any, sense as the country’s lignite-based generation will have greatly diminished by the time the case is heard.

Local gas-fueled generation up in response to high-cost power imports

Higher electricity prices in neighboring countries, increasing the cost of electricity imports, have prompted power utility PPC to capitalize on the situation and operate its gas-fueled power stations at maximum capacity for satisfactory market prices.

In recent days, PPC’s natural gas-fueled units have covered between 35 and 40 percent of electricity demand.

Yesterday, the power utility’s gas-fueled power stations covered 40 percent of electricity demand at a price of 42.6 euros per MWh for ten hours.

Independent producers covered 19 percent of electricity demand at a price of 64.4 euros per MWh for one hour.

Electricity imports covered 14 percent of electricity demand for a price of 51.7 euros per MWh over 11 hours.

Renewable energy sources covered 24 percent of electricity demand yesterday, while the decreased lignite input continued on its downward trajectory, contributing 3.6 GWh.

In Bulgaria, the wholesale electricity price was 53.14 euros per MWh. In Italy, it was 51.93 euros per MWh. Romania registered a price level of 51.7 euros per MWh. The price in Serbia was 49.91 euros per MWh.

PPC cautious with smart meter specifications following debacle

Power utility PPC is moving cautiously to set specifications for 7.5 million smart meters to be installed around the country following the debacle of a previous long-running effort, launched ten years ago, to no avail, for this mammoth project.

PPC and subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, have been given authority by the energy ministry to prepare details of a new tender for the procurement and installation of smart meters that will replace conventional power meters throughout Greece.

A number of sub-tenders may be staged, given the size of the project, budgeted at approximately 850 million euros, sources said.

Authorities are likely to launch the new competitive procedure towards the end of this year or early next year.

The competitive procedure for smart meters is not linked to another procedure concerning the privatization of DEDDDIE/HEDNO, sources clarified in comments to energypress.

Regardless of its forthcoming privatization, DEDDDIE/HEDNO is carrying on with a company plan to modernize and upgrade its distribution network and infrastructure, the sources pointed out.

PPC turn to renewable energy backed by BNEF report findings

Wind and solar energy production costs will be lower than those of existing natural gas-fueled power stations by 2025, according to a BloombergNEF analysis on Greece’s electricity market.

The projection vindicates the power utility PPC’s decision to turn to renewable energy, the corporation’s head has indicated.

“The conclusions of the BNEF report are in full agreement with the key pillars of our new strategy,” PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis said.

Installed wind and solar energy capacity will have quadrupled by 2025 compared to present levels, and renewable energy sources will have captured an energy mix share of nearly 50 percent, toppling fossil fuel from its dominant position, even if RES subsidies are not offered for existing technologies such as solar and wind, according to the BNEF analysis.

“The ever-increasing competitiveness of renewable energy sources also confirms, from an economic point of view, our choice to restructure our portfolio and transition our production towards renewable energy sources,” Stassis noted. “By focusing on clean energy, we can achieve a decarbonization of our activities in electricity generation and also reduce the cost of electricity for consumers.”

In addition, the report highlights the important role of consumers as key players in the future energy system, the PPC chief noted.

This supports PPC’s decision to develop a new customer-oriented approach and offer a reinforced portfolio of products and services, using new technologies and digital systems, according to Stassis.

Utilizing lower generation costs offered by wind and solar energy production, PPC will be well positioned for leading roles in other energy sectors, beginning with electromobility, the PPC head supported.

According to the BNEF report, Greece can establish itself as one of the EU’s energy transition leaders.

Lower-cost solar and wind energy production, as well as storage systems, plus increased CO2 emission right costs, are all radically transforming the country’s energy system, the BNEF report noted.

Greece is expected to gain an additional 18 GW in generation capacity by 2030, 67 percent of this increased output represented by wind and solar energy.

PPC changing company logo to symbolize RES transformation

Power utility PPC plans to unveil a new company logo within the next month that will symbolize the corporation’s shift from lignite to renewable energy and also signal its transformation into a company offering a range of domestic services, including maintenance and repair work, such as electrical and plumbing.

Announced late last year, this transformation is now approaching its launch. PPC recently completed a tender for a partner to support the company’s emergency domestic technical services program.

This program, part of PPC’s new commercial policy, will enable customers who have taken up a related insurance policy to call a hotline at all times for emergency help. Insurance fees for this policy, to cover annual periods, will be payable through monthly installments.

Most major energy firms in Europe offer customers supplementary services such home insurance and energy efficiency equipment.

PPC recently also announced an online appointments program for personalized service over the internet.

Though the company does not intend to back these initiatives with any major promotional campaign, they do represent elements building PPC’s new commercial policy.

Business plan, better results, new activities in DEPA Commercial VDR

The virtual data room for a forthcoming privatization to offer a 65 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA, expected to be opened for potential buyers to assess by the end of this week, will present a business plan, improved financial figures at DEPA, new company activities envisaged, as well as DEPA’s outlook on the course of the country’s natural gas market and the company’s position within it.

According to privatization fund TAIPED’s revised Asset Development Plan, participants will submit binding bids in December.

The field of first-round entries, comprising two consortiums and five companies, will have roughly three months to prepare binding bids, according to the schedule.

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italy’s Edison are one of the privatization’s two participating consortiums, the other formed by power utility PPC and Motor Oil Hellas. The five individual participants are: Mytilineos, TERNA, Copelouzos group, Shell and the Swiss-based MET group.

New partnerships could be established by the field of participants as long as they do not affect the sale’s competition standards and have been approved by TAIPED.

The sale of DEPA Commercial is a major attraction for potential buyers as it offers a big slice of the wholesale and retail markets, including gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Attikis, a subsidiary covering the wider Athens area. Fysiko Aerio Attikis already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

PPC improves payment rate for operator debt, down to €650m

Power utility PPC has increased its rate of payments for debt to operators, reducing the total amount owed from 900 million euros in July, 2019 to approximately 650 million euros at the end of last July, energypress sources have informed.

This debt, owed to power grid operator IPTO, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, has fallen at an average of between 22 to 24 million euros per month.

PPC aims to reduce its debt to these operators by a further 100 million euros by the end of the year, which would reduce the figure to 550 million euros.

If the current payment rate is maintained, PPC’s debt to operators may drop to a level of between 260 and 270 million euros by the end of 2021.

The power utility’s improved operator-related debt performance, a turnaround compared to a year earlier, when company officials had warned better days along this front were a long way off, has, by extension, helped DAPEEP improve its payment record to RES producers for their output.

PPC’s annual deficit was at a level of approximately 900 million euros last year.

Cost-reduction initiatives and a suppression of energy commodity prices during the pandemic have helped PPC stabilize its finances.

The utility’s outlays for liquid fuels, natural gas, CO2 rights and electricity purchases fell by 33.7 percent, or 561.3 million euros, in the first half this year compared to the equivalent period a year earlier.

 

Brussels considering PPC compensation for lignite units

Certain European Commission officials are believed to be considering a compensation request made by power utility PPC for its three-year phase-out, between 2021 and 2023, of all existing lignite-fired power stations, severely burdened by elevated CO2 emission right costs.

Brussels officials had flatly rejected a compensation request made by PPC nearly a year ago. However, a shift by Brussels has become apparent in recognition of the Greek decarbonization effort’s progress.

The European Commission has offered compensation elsewhere for lignite units withdrawals. Last May, Brussels made available compensation worth 52.5 million euros for the Netherlands as a result of the country’s premature closure of its Hemweg coal-fired facilities.

At the time, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager had declared EU member states may need to compensate companies for their efforts to end their coal reliance, adding that the Dutch compensation amount does not threaten to cause market distortions at a European level.

PPC officials expect European Commission developments on the issue during the final quarter of this year.

Taking into account Brussels’ handling of such issues in the past, PPC officials also believe an antitrust case concerning the Greek power utility’s lignite monopoly and the corporation’s compensation request could be resolved simultaneously.

PPC voluntary exit offer taken up by 1,000 workers this year

Close to 300 power utility PPC employees have taken up the corporation’s latest voluntary exit offer and are set to depart by the end of this month, taking the tally of staff leaving the company this year through exit plans to approximately 1,000.

The latest offer was targeted at 1,700 workers turning 55 years of age by December 31 and employed at all PPC facilities around the country, not just lignite units.

Some 700 PPC employees had accepted a preceding voluntary exit plan that expired at the end of June.

Departing workers will each receive 35,000-euro packages comprising compensation of 15,000 euros plus 20,000 euros in bonus payments.

PPC plans to stage more voluntary exit rounds. A company business plan announced last December set an objective of approximately 4,500 employee departures by 2023.

This essentially means PPC’s administration will be looking to reduce its payroll by a further 2,500 employees. Besides the 1,000 voluntary exit package applicants accumulated this year, a further 1,000 employees have qualified for pension rights.

PPC’s finances are already showing signs of improvement as a result of the corporation’s lighter payroll. Payroll costs dropped to 374.2 million euros in the first half of 2020 compared 419.3 million euros in the equivalent period last year.

PPC’s workforce numbered 14,678 on June 30, down from 15,907 a year earlier.

 

Excessive cost, for PPC, of running lignite-fired units hastening exit plan

The financial burden on power utility PPC as a result of its continued use of lignite-fired power stations at a time when the EU is racing towards climate neutrality has prompted the utility to revise its lignite unit phase-out plan for power stations in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region and Megalopoli in the Peloponnese.

According to latest information, PPC’s administration is planning further premature withdrawals of lignite-fired power stations after announcing a precipitated exit of its Megalopoli III unit, as was reported by energypress yesterday.

The Megalopoli III unit will be shut down six months sooner, in mid-2021, instead of early 2022. This 250-MW lignite-fired facility has operated for just six hours since April.

The average variable cost of lignite-based energy generation is €0.80 per MWh, well over the System Marginal Price of €0.45 per MWh, according to data presented by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis.

According to some sources, PPC has once again raised, to the European Commission, a compensation claim for being required to keep operating high-cost power stations in order to secure grid sufficiency and security.

PPC will be forced to proceed with swifter lignite unit exits if this compensation request is not satisfied, pundits said.

Power grid operator IPTO has the final say on the assessment of energy security matters.

PPC’s lignite-fired power stations covered just 36.8 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand in the first half, its lignite units playing a diminished role.

 

Ministry proposal seen ending PPC lignite monopoly case

Independent electricity retailers would be entitled to lignite-generated electricity supply from power utility PPC at a predetermined price, definitely not below cost for the utility, in quantities constituting 40 percent of each lignite-fired power station’s production, to be distributed to suppliers in proportion to their respective retail electricity market shares, until 2023, when  lignite-fired units are expected to have been phased out as part of the country’s decarbonization plan, according to a finalized proposal forwarded by the energy ministry to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition a fortnight ago in an effort to resolve a long-running antitrust case.

Energy ministry officials are confident this formula will end the antitrust dispute, now a decade long, concerning’s PPC’s lignite sector monopoly.

Back in 2010, lignite dominated Greece’s energy mix but there is now much less at stake as lignite-fired power stations are being phased out over the next three years.

PPC’s lignite-fired electricity generation dropped 47.8 percent in the first half, diving 70 percent in the second quarter, the utility announced just days ago when presenting its first-half results.

PPC’s lignite-based output totaled 3,000 GWh in the first half and just 756 GWh in the second quarter.

Energy ministry officials believe the Directorate-General for Competition will not resist accepting the Athens proposal as a rejection would take the dispute back to European Court, meaning a case would not be heard any sooner than late-2021. By then, PPC’s lignite-fired power stations Kardia III and IV and Megalopoli III will have all been withdrawn, according to the latest schedule announced by energy minister Costis Hatzidakis earlier this week.

 

Megalopoli III to exit 6 months ahead of schedule, in mid-2021

Power utility PPC plans to prematurely withdraw its Megalopoli III lignite-fired power station in mid-2021, six months earlier than planned, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis announced yesterday while presenting the government’s decarbonization plan.

A decision was taken to shut down Megalopoli III, in the Peloponnese, ahead of schedule as this facility has operated for a total of just one week since spring, indicating its output is no longer required to secure grid sufficiency.

In his comments to media yesterday, Hatzidakis, the energy minister, highlighted the high cost entailed in operating lignite-fired power stations.

The averages variable cost of lignite-based energy is €0.80 per MWh, well over the System Marginal Price of €0.45 per MWh, according to data presented by the minister.

A 550-MW PPC lignite-fired power station at Amynteo, northern Greece, has already been shut down.

For the time being, no other PPC lignite unit withdrawal plan revisions were reported at yesterday’s news conference.

Kardia III and IV are still planned to be withdrawn in 2021. These will be followed by Agios Dimitrios I, II, III and IV, representing a total capacity of 1,100 MW, in 2022. Their withdrawal will coincide with the entry of a new unit, Ptolemaida V, to offer a 610-MW capacity. It will be launched as a lignite-fired unit before continuing to generate on cleaner fuel as of 2028.

PPC is also scheduled to withdraw 260-MW Megalopoli IV, 290-MW Meliti I and 340-MW Agios Dimitrios V in 2023.

 

Pending issues crucial for industrial energy cost savings

A series of issues concerning prospective industrial energy cost savings that have surfaced either as industrial-sector requests or government announcements remain unresolved, creating insecurity within industrial circles.

New industrial electricity tariffs, currently being negotiated but with much ground still to cover for convergence, are at the very top of this list for industrialists.

One energy-intensive industrial producer has already abandoned power utility PPC after rejecting the industrial electricity tariff prices the utility had to offer.

Industrialists also want a public service compensation (YKO) surcharge reduction.

On another front, the sector expects a special consumption tax rate for mid-voltage industrial consumers with annual consumption levels of more than 13 GWh to be equated with the special consumption tax rate offered to high-voltage industrial enterprises. This revision, concerning approximately 170 factories, has been announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Another matter for the industrial sector concerns exempting major-scale industrial units from a series of additional electricity supply surcharges, in accordance with European Commission directives.

Industrialists also want a special consumption tax exemption on electricity used for mineral processing in cement and glass production, which would align Greek law with an EU directive from 2003.

The industrial sector is also anticipating a new mechanism to offset CO2 emission right costs.

PPC business plan to include more ambitious RES goals

Power utility PPC’s new business plan, to be announced towards the end of the year, will feature a more ambitious transition towards the corporation’s RES objective of between 2,000 and 3,000 MW, as well as bolder steps concerning digital products, the retail electricity market, electromobility and the decarbonization schedule.

PPC, undergoing strategic changes, has decided to present three-year business plans that will be revised annually instead of its customary five-year plans.

This reflects the corporation’s determination to remain connected with rapid developments in the energy sector, capable of outdating business plans announced just a year earlier.

The new PPC business plan, expected in December, will aim for a RES portfolio of 2,000-3,000 MW within two years; swifter digitalization; increased collaboration with the private sector for electromobility development; greater emphasis on cost-reduction synergies; as well as revenue reinforcement through the application of new technologies in all fields.

The business plan will be complemented by a new regulatory framework for PPC’s privatization-headed subsidiary HEDNO, the distribution network operator, as well as European Commission negotiations, crucial for the new generation of retail products.

The new PPC business plan will offer fundamentals for the establishment of a corporation delivering annual operating profit of between 750 and 900 million euros between 2021 and 2023.

A smooth ride is not guaranteed. Fluctuations are possible. Gas and petroleum prices, currently low, will most likely rise over the next few months, PPC’s decarbonization plan represents an enormous challenge, while difficulties and delays in the absorption of amounts from the recovery fund are feared.

For the time being, the market is approving PPC’s approach. The company share has risen 187 percent over the past six months, up from 1.55 euros in March to 4.45 euros yesterday.

 

HEDNO preparing to announce latest smart meters tender

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO is preparing to launch a latest tender, possibly within the next month, for the procurement and installation of 7.5 million smart power meters to replace conventional meters around the county.

The tender will also include a contract for the development of a telemetric center covering the entire country, sources informed.

Over the past decade or so, DEDDIE/HEDNO and parent company PPC, the power utility, have announced a series of tenders for the procurement and installation of smart meters, ultimately to no avail. They have either not taken place or not been completed.

The overall project, budgeted at 850 million euros, will mainly be funded through the recovery fund. The energy ministry has included the project with this fund.

DEDDIE/HEDNO and PPC are seeking to gain from various benefits offered by smart meters, including big cost savings for the corporate group, and added value to the operator’s facilities and distribution network ahead of a privatization planned by the government to offer a 49 percent stake.

The installation of smart meters also promises to help combat electricity theft and increase electricity market competition by enabling suppliers to charge customers based on real-time conditions with prices reflecting production and supply costs.

 

PPC power demand coverage down to 36.8%, lignite savings

Power utility PPC’s lignite-fired electricity production plunged 70 percent in the second quarter of 2020, its generation covered just 36.8 percent of overall electricity demand in the first half, while the corporation’s retail electricity market share has contracted to 69.9 percent, first-half company results have shown.

These shifts highlight the major changes occurring in Greece’s energy market – in terms of energy mix and retail competition.

PPC’s retail electricity market share drop to 69.9 percent followed a 77 percent share reported for the equivalent period a year earlier.

Electricity demand fell just 1.7 percent in the first quarter before sliding 12.7 percent in the second quarter, the PPC results showed.

A significant part of the corporation’s recurring EBITDA figure of 457.3 million euros reported for the first half was attributed to the utility’s diminished reliance on lignite-fired generation, until recently Greece’s dominant energy source. PPC’s lignite units have been kept shut or used minimally, saving the corporation from losses.

However, this is one side of the story for PPC. The company’s reduced reliance on lignite may be saving the power utility considerable amounts, but its coverage of overall electricity demand has dropped to 36.8 percent in the first half, from 46.9 percent in the first half last year. Gas-fired and hydropower generation have been low.

This downward slide at PPC is expected to continue until the corporation’s green energy output rises to between 2,000 and 3,000 MW, a level that would take the company into a new era. A period of at least two to three years will be needed before this can be achieved.

The pandemic and its downward pressure on energy price levels has helped PPC. Company outlays for fuels, natural gas, CO2 emission rights and electricity purchases fell by 33.7 percent, or 561.3 million euros, in the first half, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier.

PPC saved 95 million euros on fuel costs, 110.2 million euros on natural gas costs, approximately 80 million euros on CO2 emission rights, and 260.2 million euros on electricity purchases, the first half results showed.

Energy products may rebound in the second half, meaning PPC has no other choice but to accelerate its foray into the RES sector.

Despite the encouraging first-half results, there is no room for complacency, PPC’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis stressed.

 

 

PPC Renewables, Germany’s RWE aim for business deal by end of year

PPC Renewables, a power utility PPC subsidiary, and RWE, Germany’s biggest power producer, have set an objective to develop a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two sides last March into a realistic business agreement by the end of this year.

A team of RWE officials, completing a three-day working visit to Greece today, visited northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, a lignite-dependent area, for on-site inspections of areas offering investment interest to the German company.

Besides new projects, RWE is also keen to take on projects already being developed by other companies.

Details seen fostering the development of the MoU into a business plan, including project financing prospects and the establishment of working groups, were addressed by the two sides.

The visiting German team also held a meeting, yesterday, with the leadership of the development and investment ministry and the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou.

The length of time required in Greece for RES licenses was discussed, as were financial incentives promised through the fair transition fund, an EU plan to support green economy transitions.

New installment-based debt settlement offer at PPC

Power utility PPC debtors could be given another chance to service electricity bill arrears through an installment-based payback program as a result of a wider debt-payment plan just forwarded by the government for consultation.

Besides PPC customers, authorities also intend to make this payback offer available to debtors owing amounts to a range of other entities, including banks, social security funds and the tax department.

An online registration process is being planned for applications.

However, interested parties will need to accept the lifting of banking and tax secrecy terms to become eligible for the payback plan.

This condition will be set so that authorities can cross-examine personal assets, both in Greece and abroad, to avoid attracting, to the program, individuals deemed as financially capable but unwilling to fully honor payback program commitments, as has been the case all too often in previous efforts.

Many such individuals have exploited previous PPC payback programs by registering, paying deposits and, in some cases, early installments, to protect themselves from immediate power supply cut threats, before disappearing from the picture.

PPC’s debtors, including businesses, owe the utility unpaid receivables worth 2.7 billion euros. Over 580,000 financially capable but unwilling customers, or strategic electricity bill dodgers, as they are commonly referred to locally, owe PPC an estimated sum of 545 million euros.

In addition, 895,000 customers who have switched from PPC to other electricity suppliers have left behind electricity-bill arrears estimated at one billion euros.

 

 

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.

Supplier guarantees proposed by IPTO ‘needless, excessive’

Electricity suppliers have expressed reservations about a power grid operator IPTO report calling for the payment of guarantees by all parties registered with ESMIE, Greece’s electricity transmission system, to fulfill obligations, describing these guarantees as needless and excessive.

The operator’s report was put forth for consultation by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, prompting responses from ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading and Supply Companies, and three energy suppliers, the power utility PPC, Heron and Protergia.

The IPTO call for guarantees would excessively burden ESMIE members and create serious cashflow problems in the mid to long term, the association and suppliers noted in their responses.

Contrary to formulas used for IPTO and the Energy Exchange, a financial danger coefficient was not applied to the calculations determining the ESMIE member guarantees, the association and suppliers pointed out.

In addition, the IPTO report also calls for a monthly system-use charge imposed on suppliers to be doubled and paid in advance.

The report also proposes a revision to the formula determining penalties for delayed guarantee payments. ESEPIE described the IPTO proposal for a penalty charge of 1,000 euros per month as erroneous, instead offering its support for the current formula, increasing penalty payments for delays by 0.1 percent per day.

RAE has yet to take a position on the IPTO report’s proposals.

DEPA Infrastructure VDR open, DEPA Commercial data soon

A virtual data room has just been opened for the six bidding teams preparing to make second-round offers in the privatization of gas company DEPA Infrastracture, an offshoot of gas utility DEPA.

Czech company EPH, Italy’s Italgas, the Australian investment funds First State Investments and Macquarie, US firm KKR and China’s Sino-CEEF & Shanghai Dazhong Public Utilities now have access to all relevant data concerning the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Another VDR is expected to be opened within the next few days for bidders participating in the privatization of DEPA Commercial, DEPA’s other entity up for sale.

The participants in this sale, seven entries in total, are: Motor Oil Hellas-PPC, ELPE-Edison, Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, the Copelouzos group, Dutch company Shell and the Swiss-based MET Group.

VDR information for the DEPA Commercial sale will be made available over three phases as a protective measure intended to ensure competition. The first phase, offering non-sensitive data, will be open for all. Access to VDR information during the second stage, offering sensitive data, will be restricted to consultants. Bidders will be offered conditional access to confidential information in the third phase.

Greece’s privatization fund TAIPED is aiming to declare preferred bidders for both sales in the final quarter of this year. Market officials, however, believe this is more likely to occur in the first quarter of 2021.

DEPA Commercial bidders are allowed to team up and establish consortiums but partnerships for the DEPA Infrastructure sale are not permitted.

Bidders participating in the DEPA Commercial sale are mainly eyeing the company’s prized asset, retail gas supplier and subsidiary Fysiko Aerio Attikis, covering the wider Athens area. This company already serves close to 400,000 households and 10,000 businesses.

Flexibility surcharge improper, suppliers complain to Brussels

A CAT surcharge imposed on electricity suppliers to support the flexibility mechanism was adopted without proper consultation via a procedure that was not fully substantiated, ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading and Supply Companies, has charged in a letter forwarded to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and Directorate-General for Energy.

Consultation on the matter lacked a detailed study by power grid operator IPTO on current flexibility needs, the association protested in the letter, forwarded to the Brussels authorities just weeks ahead of the launch of target model markets in Greece.

The flexibility mechanism’s details are based on a study conducted years ago but current flexibility needs concerning production and demand have since changed drastically, the association noted.

A transitional mechanism is not needed given the current conditions in Greece’s energy market, especially if the pandemic-related drop in electricity demand is taken into consideration, ESEPIE noted. State aid or any other form of support for energy producers offering flexibility is unnecessary, the association stressed.

Suppliers have been asked to cover flexibility-related surcharges, beginning August 15, at a rate of approximately 3 euros per MWh. This is burdening their finances, especially in the mid-voltage market, where heightened competition has severely narrowed profit margins.

Flexibility CATs, it should be noted, do not impact independent, vertically integrated suppliers as the corporate groups they belong to collect the flexibility surcharge payments for their production.

Energy companies actually benefit from the surcharge if their retail electricity market shares are smaller than their shares of production. This is not the case for PPC, whose retail market share is considerably bigger than its share of electricity generation.

 

PPC writes off €1.7bn in customer debt as uncollectible

Power utility PPC has written off, as uncollectible accounts, 1.7 billion euros in unpaid receivables accumulated over the past decade or so by household, business and industrial customers.

This sum represents over 60 percent of PPC’s unpaid receivables total, estimated to be worth 2.7 billion euros.

The 1.7 billion-euro amount written off by PPC concerns customer debt that is at least five years old. Many enterprises with electricity bill arrears owed to PPC are no longer in business.

Though PPC is clearing its books of these uncollectible accounts to financially restructure, the debt, owed by customers does cease to exist.

Debt collection firms that recently took on the task of managing PPC’s unpaid receivables will continue to pursue customers with arrears, despite subdued expectations of success.

These collection firms will be focusing their efforts on more recent unpaid receivables estimated to total as much as one billion euros.

PPC, according to data released last year that has changed little, estimates that over 580,000 financially able customers are deliberately dodging electricity bill payments totaling 545 million euros and overdue for more than six months. Overall, PPC estimates this category of customers to total 1,477,000, owing over 1.5 billion euros.

Also, the corporation estimates that a further 895,000 customers have switched suppliers, leaving PPC with a total of one billion euros in of unpaid receivables.

PPP recently reached securitization package agreements with JP Morgan and PIMCO, the former for unpaid receivables overdue by up to 60 days and the latter for unpaid receivables overdue by more than 90 days.

Suppliers want IPTO to take on part of €45m retroactive charge

Electricity suppliers, reacting to a 45 million-euro retroactive charge handed out by power grid operator IPTO for account discrepancies between November, 2019 and May, 2020, want the operator to accept responsibility for part of this cost and also expect the energy ministry to intervene.

Suppliers have asked for legislative and regulatory initiatives to offer greater transparency in calculations of various market-related accounts.

The operator has already delivered the resulting charges to suppliers, prompting their irritation.

The share of the 45 million-euro total cost for suppliers is proportional to their retail electricity market shares, meaning power utility PPC, the dominant player, has been asked to cover the greatest amount.

IPTO’s retroactive charge resulted from account miscalculations, by the operator, that did not factor in a part of RES output, specifically PV production in the low-voltage category.

The issue has also caused accounting confusion for suppliers, whose financial results for the months of November and December, 2019 – both included in IPTO’s discrepancy calculations – have already been finalized and published.

Entities such as IPTO ought to provide reassurances and solutions, not create ambiguities and problems, suppliers, bracing for further pandemic-related challenges as of September, have complained.

The ministry should intervene and offer market stability if the operator is unable to do so, suppliers asserted.

Gas-fired, RES generation high in July, gas-based output boost at PPC

Electricity demand fell by 2 percent in July compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, while gas-fired and RES generation remained high, according to a latest energy exchange report.

Demand in July peaked at 9,033 MW, on July 31 at 2pm, while the month’s lowest level of electricity demand was 4,290 MW, recorded on July 12 at 7am, the report informed.

Domestic electricity demand represented 97.27 percent of the month’s total demand while exports represented 2.72 percent, according to the data.

Natural gas-fueled generation covered 41.21 percent of electricity demand in July, RES production covered 26.05 percent, electricity imports covered 20.01 percent, hydropower output contributed with 6.76 percent and lignite-fired generation followed with 5.97 percent.

Production by natural gas-fueled power stations in July was up 8 percent compared to the same month a year earlier, the data showed. Electricity imports were down 10 percent this July and exports rose by 14 percent.

Lignite-fired generation dropped considerably, by 64 percent, hydropower output registered a milder reduction of 4 percent, while RES output increased significantly by 49 percent.

As had been anticipated, a rise in production at PPC’s Megalopoli V unit increased the corporation’s overall gas-fired production in July, both compared to June and preceding months.

PPC’s gas-fired electricity production reached 942,613 MWh in July compared to 512,292 MWh in June.