Extraordinary conditions push SMP as high as €105 per MWh

Extraordinary conditions resulting from coinciding temporary closures of various power facilities, both in Greece and abroad, have pushed up the System Marginal Price, or wholesale electricity, to levels of as much as 105 euros per MWh, as was the case yesterday.

Four domestic gas-fired power stations – Enthes (Elpedison), Heron CC, Lavrio IV and Protergia – were out of order yesterday, for different reasons.

Problems beyond the Greek border have made matters worse. Bulgaria’s 1,000-MW Kozloduy nuclear power plant is currently out of order. The Greek-Bulgarian line serves as a transit route towards North Macedonia as a line linking Bulgaria and North Macedonia is out of order. So, too, is a line linking Greece with Italy.

Power stations that rarely operate, such as an open-cycle Heron unit, needed to be called into action as a result of the problems on these various fronts. Their necessary contributions pushed the SMP to far higher levels.

Three power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations, Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis, along with PPC’s gas-fired power stations Aliveri V, Lavrio V, Komotini, Megalopoli V, as well as units run by the independent energy firms Heron, Thisvi and Corinth Power, all needed to be called into action to cover the grid’s needs.

The market appears to have normalized for today. SMP levels are down to relatively satisfactory levels, averaging 44.49 euros per MWh, primarily as a result of significant RES contributions, covering more than 50 percent of the overall demand, 123.993 GWh.

The lignite-fired power stations used yesterday – Agios Dimitrios II and III and Melitis – will remain closed today.

Producers seeking lower-cost industrial electricity alternatives

Industrial electricity consumers of the high and mid-voltage categories are securing lower-cost agreements with independent suppliers, while energy-intensive consumers, currently negotiating with power utility PPC for new tariffs to take effect January 1, are pushing for better deals.

These developments are reshuffling the industrial electricity market, previously dominated by PPC.

Independent energy company Heron and Macedonia Paper Mills (MEL) recently announced an electricity supply agreement that includes a package of services for energy efficiency, electromobility and RES coverage of the producer’s energy needs.

Cement producer Heracles had previously reached an electricity supply agreement with Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, paving the way for further agreements between producers and independent suppliers.

These developments have had a wider knock-on effect, including for mid-voltage supply, as demonstrated by an agreement between energy supplier NRG, a member of the Motor Oil group, with the country’s other cement producing giant, Titan.

Following losses in 2018 and 2019, PPC is believed to be turning its focus on more profitable sectors and is no longer interested in maintaining a high share of the industrial electricity market – both high and mid-voltage.

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.

PPC secures 3 of 4.5 GW offered at last week’s flexibility auction

Power utility PPC secured the largest quantities at last Friday’s flexibility remuneration auction, obtaining 3 GW of a total of 4.5 GW made available to bidders, early data has shown.

Also, Mytilineos-Protergia secured 630 MW, followed by Elpedison with 469 MW and Heron with 339 MW.

The August 14 auction, staged by power grid operator IPTO, offered bidders flexibility remuneration rights for a period covering August 15 to October 31 this year.

A total flexibility capacity of 4,500 MW was offered at a starting price of 39,000 euros per MW, annually.

Electricity supplier switching by consumers up 89% in 2019

Consumers switching electricity suppliers increased sharply by 89 percent in 2019, a report by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has shown.

A total of 576,436 consumers, 8.5 percent of the 6,783,075 consumers in total, switched suppliers in 2019, up from 4.51 percent in 2018, the report showed.

This sharp rise in consumer switches was attributed to growing consumer confidence in independent electricity suppliers as well as the effectiveness of discounts and various other offers made available by these suppliers to attract customers. Put simply, competition in the Greek electricity market appears to be intensifying.

Household electricity consumers showed the greatest degree of mobility, followed by mid and high-voltage consumers, or businesses and industrial consumers, the RAE report observed.

In the mid-voltage category, 834 business and industrial consumers of 9,071 in total, or 9.19 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2019, according to the report.

Despite the increased customer mobility, power utility PPC remained dominant in 2019, supplying electricity to 5,694,627 consumers, or 83.95 percent of the 6,783,075 in total, the report showed. In terms of consumption, PPC held a 71.13 percent share, supplying 27.7 million MWh last year.

Independent supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, was ranked second in terms of total number of customers in 2019, supplying to 181,232 customers, the report noted.

Elpedison was ranked third with 171,143 customers, followed by Heron (140,812), Watt & Volt (127,364), Zenith (73,968), Volton (69,688), NRG (52,961), Fysiko Aerio (39,881), Volterra (35,748) and KEN (33,997).

A total of 24 independent suppliers are active in Greece’s electricity market.

Universal supply service overcharge set at 12%

Electricity consumers resorting to the universal supply service, covering the energy needs of households and small businesses shunned by suppliers for failing to be punctual with payments, will face tariff levels 12 percent over the regular market rate, according to a related ministerial decision.

The country’s five biggest electricity suppliers, in terms of retail market share, will need to share the pool of old and new unwanted customers and provide the universal supply service.

Previously, the market leader – consistently PPC – was forced to offer the service alone after suppliers chose not to submit bids to related universal service tenders.

Under the service’s new rules, the highest tariff rate among the top five suppliers will serve as the base for the 12 percent overcharge.

PPC, still dominating Greece’s retail electricity market with a 90 percent share of power meters, Protergia (Mytilineos), Heron, Elpedison – all three control 3 percent each – and NRG (1%) are the top five suppliers who, by law, must offer the universal supply service.



PPC, majors face 20% sale limit on output for bilateral contracts

Vertically integrated electricity producers will be permitted to sell up to 20 percent of production through mutual agreements once the target model is launched, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided, ultimately doubling a 10 percent limited proposed by the Greek stock exchange, energypress sources have informed.

RAE reached its decision to set the limit at 20 percent after considering arguments presented by producers and sector authorities during consultation.

The limit takes into effect power utility PPC, dominating the retail market, as well as all integrated producers with retail market shares of more than 4 percent – namely, as things stand, Protergia, Heron and Elpedison, all with over 4 percent for quite some time now.

This decision by RAE is one of the last pending issues concerning energy exchange markets, recently rescheduled to begin operating on September 17, if all goes according to plan from here on.

ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, had proposed a limit of between 5 and 10 percent for PPC’s mutual agreements and forward contracts, and proportional limits for vertically integrated electricity producers with market shares of more than 4 percent.

PPC, which, from the outset, pushed for a 20 percent limit, based its argument on a study by global energy consulting company ECCO International, according to which the sale limit on output should range between 10 and 20 percent.


Electromobility creating various opportunities, players preparing

Besides the auto industry and recharging network investments, the country’s push towards electromobility, strongly supported by a draft bill delivered by the government yesterday for consultation, is also creating various other new business opportunities.

Enterprises active in battery and recharging technology, spare parts for electric cars and e-bikes, for example, can expect production opportunities.

Business opportunities are emerging for electricity companies, fuel companies, network owners and operators, recharging technology manufacturers and technology firms.

The government’s draft bill includes provisions enabling fuel stations, shopping centers, super markets, parking lots, as well as municipalities and prefectures to install recharging stations. An extensive, widely accessible recharging network will be pivotal to the country’s overall electromobility effort.

The draft bill also includes a provision for the establishment of electric vehicle charging operators, expected to primarily develop their own recharging stations, at locations either owned by them or prospective partners.

The operators will also be able to collaborate with shopping centers, super markets, municipalities and any other entities wanting to install recharging stations but lacking the size or interest to get too involved with more complex procedures.

Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) has already announced the establishment of a subsidiary to focus on the energy group’s electromobility interests. Also, Motor Oil has taken its first steps, mainly through NRG, the group’s supply firm.

Both these major energy groups have already installed some recharging stations along highways and at other points. All major fuel companies plan to follow suit.

The country’s major independent electricity suppliers, Heron, Elpedison and Protergia, plus smaller players, have all incorporated electromobility into their strategic plans.

Power utility PPC, aspiring to dominate this sector, has already announced three MoUs, with the AB Vasilopoulos supermarket chain, Beat taxi service, and airport operator Fraport Greece. PPC aims to have installed 1,000 recharging stations around Greece over the next two to three years.

Some electricity suppliers have formed partnerships with car industries. Elpedison has teamed up with Mercedes Benz Hellas, Motor Oil’s NRG with BMW, and Protergia with Kosmocar-Volkswagen.


PPC mid-voltage market share tumbles to 30%, competition intense

Power utility PPC’s market share in the mid-voltage category, where competition has intensified, slid to 30.2 percent in May, well below its 53.72 percent share in January, making way for independent suppliers who have made significant gains since the beginning of the year.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, ranked second in the mid-voltage market, was the biggest gainer during the five-month period, increasing its mid-voltage market share to 20.02 percent in May, nearly double January’s 12.19 percent.

Heron follows with 13.74 percent, up from 9.24 percent in January. Elpedison is ranked fourth with 9.34 percent, from 6.72 percent in January. NRG is next, closely behind, with a 7.74 percent mid-voltage market share, from 5.16 percent at the beginning of the year.

No major market-share changes have been reported in the high and low-voltage categories.

Overall – high, mid and low-voltage categories – PPC captured 66.27 percent of the market in May, slightly below the previous month’s 67.25 percent.

Protergia is ranked second, overall, with a 7.31 percent share, up from 6.84 percent in April. Heron is in third place with 6.27 percent, gaining from the previous month’s 5.81 percent. Elpedison follows with 4.97 percent, down from 5.06 percent in April.

Top five taking on universal supply service, tender futile

A tender staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, offering electricity suppliers a two-year contract for universal supply service covering the needs of consumers who have been shunned for not being punctual with payments, has failed to produce a result.

Though the outcome of this procedure remains consistent with results of equivalent tenders in previous years, an imminent change of rules will require the electricity market’s top five suppliers, based on market share, to assume the universal supply service.  Higher tariffs are charged.

Until now, power utility PPC, as market leader, was forced to take on the job alone.

A ministerial decision on the rule change is expected to be delivered by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas within the next few days.

The universal electricity supply service’s two-year contract starts on June 23.

Based on market data for April, the Greek retail electricity market’s top five suppliers are: PPC, Protergia, Heron, Elpedison and Watt+Volt. NRG trails slightly behind in sixth place.

Unlike other European markets, where the universal electricity supply service is a desirable venture, and, as a result, warrants competitive procedures, the equivalent service in Greece is typically neglected by suppliers as it has been abused by non-punctual electricity consumers exploiting the service as a safe haven.

Natural gas bill payments down 30% in last two months

Natural gas bill payments have plunged by 30 percent over the past two-month period following a milder single-digit decline a month earlier, latest market data has shown.

Consumers have resorted to installment-based payback plans in far greater numbers during this two-month period of deterioration.

Suppliers, fearing a rise in unpaid receivables, are not hesitating to cut gas supply to customers who were already battling against energy debt prior to the pandemic and are now in deeper trouble. However, this supply-cut threat concerns a small percentage of customers.

Gas suppliers have yet to turn to the government for support measures, as was the case in the electricity sector. However, they may end up needing help in the form of low-interest loans, support mechanisms and other financial tools if the country’s tourism industry suffers a major setback this coming summer, as is feared.

Zenith and EPA Attiki (Fysiko Aerio) hold an 85.39 percent overall share of the country’s retail gas markets equipped with distribution networks – wider Athens area, Thessaloniki and Thessaly – data processed by energypress showed. Zenith leads with 46.14 percent and EPA Attiki follows with 39.25 percent.

EPA Thess, a former monopoly covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, has lost approximately 15 percent of its market share to newly emerged rivals, the data showed. KEN, the biggest gainer, has captured 5.25 percent and is followed by Protergia (3.1%), Elpedison (1.91%), NRG (1.35%), Heron (1.05%), Watt+Volt (0.75%) and EFA (0.76%).

Crisis impacting energy sub-sectors in different ways

Energy companies are not being impacted in a universal way by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, its effects varying from one sub-sector to another, as was made clear during conference-call presentations of 2019 financial results by two different types of firms, Motor Oil, active in refining and fuel trade, and Mytilineos, whose interests include energy production and supply.

Motor Oil needs to counter lower international oil prices, lowered by the coronavirus outbreak combined with a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Oil prices may have fallen but fuel demand is expected to slide further as stricter coronavirus stay-at-home orders are enforced.

The main challenge for Motor Oil is to maintain liquidity at levels ensuring sustainability.

As for the corporate group Mytilineos, represented by Protergia in the retail energy market, it has yet to experience a drop in electricity demand. Italy, hardest-hit by the coronavirus in Europe, has seen electricity demand drop by 7 percent.

The significant decline in natural gas prices is expected to offer Mytilineos purchase cost savings of about 99 million euros over a one-year period.

The group is continuing its development of a new gas-fueled power plant.

Despite the crisis, the Mytilineos group aims to continue operating its units at full capacity and utilize the availability of low-cost fuel.

‘NOME auctions have run their race, alternative required’

Nearly one third of the electricity amount offered to independent players at yesterday’s NOME auction remained unwanted, while bidding was non-existent, keeping prices flat at the recently elevated starting price of 58.12 euros per MWh throughout the session.

The absence of any bidding activity prompted officials to write off the future prospects of the NOME tool as a market opener and note that an alternative system must be found.

A total of 763 MW was offered to participants but 214 MW was not purchased.

“The NOME auctions have reached the end of their road,” Dinos Benroubi, head official at the Mytilineos group’s Protergia energy company, told an industry panel at an Economist conference in Athens. “This shows that NOME prices, determined by – and reflecting – lignite production, are no longer the way to open up the market…The NOME auctions have exhausted their limits and cannot be used as a tool to open up the retail electricity market,” the official continued, while adding that a new system needs to be introduced.

Full competition without total access to all energy sources is not possible, Benroubi highlighted, while noting that it is up to the country’s authorities to prepare and implement a new system.

The next NOME auction, scheduled for October, is planned to offer participants a record-level electricity amount of 1,029 MW, which includes a penalty quantity for the power utility PPC’s failure to meet an electricity market share contraction target included in the country’s bailout terms. Given the results of yesterday’s NOME auction, the outcome of the October session is already being seen as a foregone conclusion.


New gas-fired units reshaping electricity generation sector

Independent electricity producers, sensing opportunities, are reshaping the sector by planning the development of new gas-fired power stations to replace the power utility PPC’s outgoing lignite-fired units. The independent producers are even replacing power stations of their own, launched about 15 years ago, as part of the overall drive.

The country’s required withdrawal of old lignite-fired power stations operated by state-controlled PPC, as well as the implementation of the target model, beginning in the summer of 2020 with a link of the Greek and Italian electricity markets, followed by a Bulgarian link as a second stage, have been cited as the two main factors bringing about this change of scene in the electricity production sector.

The independent producers GEK TERNA (Heron), Mytilineos (Protergia) and Elpedison, as well as new arrivals such as the Copelouzos and Karatzis groups, have all expressed an interest to acquire licenses for the development of new power stations.

PPC, heavily reliant on lignite-based production, is gradually losing grip of its dominance in the electricity generation sector.

Pushed higher by the EU’s environmental policy, rising CO2 emission right costs, now nearing 30 euros per ton after being worth approximately 5 euros per ton a year-and-a-half ago, are a key factor in the developments.

PPC’s CO2-related costs rose to 279.5 million euros in 2018 from 141.6 million euros a year earlier.

Grid prepared for demand peak of first heatwave this summer

Given the day-ahead market’s indications, the country’s first heatwave of this summer, expected to increase temperatures to levels of between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius today and tomorrow, should not cause any problems for the grid.

The system is prepared for daily demand levels of 150,760 MWh at a System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, of 73.549 euros per MWh.

Renewable energy is programmed to cover 21,584 MWh of daily demand and hydropower facilities a further 8,156 MWh.

As for the country’s lignite-fired power stations, power utility PPC’s Kardia II, III and IV, Agios Dimitrios III and IV and Megalopoli III and IV will all be called into action.

So, too, will gas-fueled power stations operated by PPC and private-sector electricity producers (Aliveri V, Lavrio IV and V, Megalopoli V, Heron, ENTHES, Protergia, Corinth Power).

Electricity exports totaling 21,350 MWh have also been planned. Demand is forecast to peak at 2pm, reaching a level of 7,622 MW.

In a statement released yesterday, Greek gas utility DEPA ascertained the country’s gas needs will be covered this summer, as will supply needs for customers in Greece and Bulgaria.

Total gas demand in Greece last year between June 15 and August 15 reached 8.1 TWh and is expected to rise to 9.2 TWh for the equivalent period this summer, according to DEPA.

Gas grid operator DESFA’s incoming LNG shipments for this period this summer will amount to 7.3 TWh, dramatically up from a 2.4 TWh total unloaded at the Revythoussa terminal on the islet off Athens during the summer period last year, according to the operator.



Consumer supplier shifts slowed down in 2017

The rate of consumer shifts to alternate electricity suppliers slowed down in 2017 even though the total number of consumers leaving the main power utility PPC for independent suppliers nearly doubled during the same year, representing just 4.7 percent of the country’s low and medium-voltage connections, according to an annual market report published by RAE, the the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

A total of 186,446 low and medium-voltage consumers switched electricity suppliers in 2017, or 2.81 percent of the total, according to the RAE report. This represents a 78 percent increase compared to 2016, when 104,775 household and business consumers decided to change electricity supplier.

In 2016, the increase in the number of consumers shifting suppliers grew at a far greater rate of 263 percent, compared to 2015, when just 28,832 consumers changed suppliers.

The slowdown in the number of supplier changes has been attributed to a  growing number of consumers settling at suppliers of their choice as well as the decreased number of customers leaving PPC as a result of its 15 percent discount offer for punctual payment of electricity bills.

The highest level of mobility was registered in the medium-voltage category, the number reaching 801 from a total of 10,331 consumers, or 7.75 percent.

In the low-voltage category, 185,645 consumers of 6,620,702 in total, or 2.8 percent, switched electricity suppliers in 2017.

PPC lost 143,842 low and medium-voltage customers in 2017 for a resulting customer base of 6,319,123 and remained the dominant supplier with a 95.3 percent share in these categories, according to the RAE data.

Protergia led the list of independent suppliers with 81,796 consumers. Elpedison and Heron made up the top three with respective customer totals of 76,161 and 51,348.




Most local energy firms greatly exceed EU energy efficiency targets

Most of Greece’s energy supply firms have exceeded Energy Efficiency Obligation (EEO) targets for 2017, shaped by an EU Energy Efficiency Directive, and, as a result, appear to have swept aside any dangers of receiving any fines.

The EEO includes measures obligating energy enterprises to take initiatives contributing to energy efficiency in the household and industrial sectors as well as for passenger vehicles and trucks.

The obligations are divided into awareness raising actions concerning consumer use of energy as well as technical initiatives, such as insulation work and environmental upgrades of houses.

According to the EEO targets, Greece needs to save 3,332.7 ktoe (kiloton of oil equivalent) in energy by 2020, while an initial annual target of 100 ktoe has been set.

Figures released this week showed that the country’s energy firms saved a total of 177 ktoe, well over the initial target of 100 ktoe.

Major energy suppliers such as the main power utility PPC, Protergia, EKO and Coral all exceeded annual targets. PPC exceeded its 31.76 ktoe target to register 60.334, a 28.574 ktoe surplus. Protergia registered savings of 20.473 ktoe, 20.003 kteo over its 0.47 ktoe target.

Just five of the country’s 29 energy firms, among them Kaoil, Rodogaz and Phoenix, failed to reach targets. The aforementioned three all registered zero savings to miss their respective targets of 0.92 ktoe, 0.16 ktoe and 0.04 ktoe.


Protergia decision to develop 650 MW gas-fueled power station explained

A decision by Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, to develop a 650 MW natural gas-fueled power station is primarily based on long-term trends projected for the domestic energy market over the next 10 to 15 years, Dinos Benroubi, the energy division head at the Mytilineos group, informed participants at a conference staged by HAEE, the Hellenic Association for Energy Economics.

“We have made certain decisions and will push ahead with a new 650 MW gas-fueled power station,” Benroubi remarked.

Electricity demand is expected to significantly increase beyond 2025, while the European trend is headed towards decarbonization and a turn to renewable energy, according to projections made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, the official explained.

By 2022, when the new Protergia gas-fueled power station is expected to begin operating, thermal units totaling 1,060 MW are expected to be added to the system while between 1,600 and 1,900 MW will be withdrawn by 2025, Benroubi noted.

He explained that, based on IPTO forecasts, a capacity sufficiency issue will emerge as of 2022.

“Acting together, we will all resolve this issue for the years 2020 and 2021 but, from then on, thermal output will be needed, it has become apparent,” Benroubi remarked.

According to Eurelectric, the sector association representing the common interests of the electricity industry at a European level, 1 MW of thermal capacity is needed for every 1 MW of wind energy capacity, the Mytilineos group’s energy head told.

Thermal output currently suffices to cover present RES levels, Benroubi explained, while questioning whether reduced thermal output will be enough to cover increased RES levels in 2025.

The corporation has estimated that, in 2025, a lignite-fired power station would generate electricity at a cost of 105 euros per MWh and a natural gas-fueled unit would produce at a cost of 67 euros per MWh, the official pointed out.

The development of a new natural gas-fueled unit is needed both in terms of grid needs and sustainability.

Renewables cover nearly 70% of needs April 1, a historic day

Renewable energy covered nearly 70 percent of the country’s electricity demand on April 1, providing a total of 78.98 GWh of 116.8 GWh required for the day.

Just three of the country’s lignite-fired power stations, Kardia IV, Amynteo I and Megalopoli IV needed to contribute on the day, all operating below full capacity.

Of the system’s gas-fueled power stations, the main power utility PPC’s Komotini, and Megalopoli V facilities, as well as two units belonging to independent producers, Enthes, operated by Elpedison, and Korinthos Power, a joint venture run by Protergia and Motor Oil Hellas, needed to deliver on this day, a historic one for the grid given the RES sector’s level of input.

The System Marginal Price (SMP) regisistered at 29.82 euros per MWh and would have dropped to an even lower level had electricity imports been more limited. These reached 21.59 GWh.

The SMP was at 8.8 euros per MWh at 10am, slipped to 7.8 euros per MWh at 3pm and slipped to 3.86 euros per MWh at 6pm before rising to over 60 euros per MWh later in the evening.

The mandatory use of hydropower facilities, prompted by overfilled reservoirs, dropped to 27.52 GWh, well below levels of previous days.

The RES sector’s contribution for the day peaked at 2pm, providing 3,447 MW of 5,568 MW, or 61.9 percent of demand at that given time.


Latest NOME price, slightly lower, helpful but not enough

The NOME auction price established at yesterday’s first session of the year, down slightly to 41.45 euros per MWh from 45.20 euros per MWh reached at the previous session last October, promises some help for independent electricity suppliers but is not enough to generate major impetus in the effort being made to  open up the country’s retail electricity market, auction participants have generally agreed in comments offered to energypress.

Though still relatively high, the latest NOME auction price set yesterday, in what was the year’s first of four sessions, will offer some leeway for independent electricity suppliers, especially those active in the mid-voltage category, who, in recent times, have battled amid loss-incurring market conditions.

However, the 41.45 euros per MWh price set yesterday offers independent suppliers minimal leeway to shape attractive pricing policies that could help them gain part of the lion’s share maintained by PPC, the main power utility.

Even so, given the sizeable electricity amounts to be offered at three NOME auctions to follow this year, yesterday’s session represents a promising start.

A total of 400 MW/h was offered yesterday. Equivalent amounts will also be offered at two ensuing auctions, scheduled for April 18 and June 18, while a larger amount of 511 MW/h is planned for the year’s final session, scheduled for October 17.

Protergia was the biggest buyer at yesterday’s session, purchasing 90 MWh/h, energypress was informed. Heron followed with 60 MWh/h, NRG was third with 55 MWh/h, Elpedison ranked fourth with 40 MWh/h, ELTA was next with 40 MWh/h, Watt + Volt bought 35 MWh/h, KEN acquired 20 MWh/h, Volterra bought 13 MWh/h, Volton bought 10 MWh/h, EPA Attiki acquired 10 MWh/h, and Zenith bought 5 MWh/h.

Protergia dominating supplier online references, study finds

Electricity supplier Protergia dominated the number of online references among the country’s independent players, followed by Heron and Elpedison, between January and August, according to research conducted by Athens-based web agency NetSteps.

Approximately 3.4 million online sources, such as news sites, blogs, forums and social media, were monitored for the study, focused on 12 independent electricity suppliers.

The main power utility PPC was examined separately, as a unique brand, because the extent of the utility’s market dominance would have distorted the study’s overall results.

Protergia experienced an increase in online references in June and July, gaining a considerable number of Facebook shares, the NetSteps study found.

Elpedison enjoyed its strongest month in February as a result of its collaboration with Public and insurance company AXA, while Heron registered an increased number of online references in June. Watt & Volt experienced a relatively smaller peak in May, when the electricity supplier launched its first retail store in Thessaloniki. Green’s online traffic rose in March as a result of competitions staged through Facebook and discount offers.

As for the electricity market’s biggest influencers, Energypress topped the list with the greatest number of energy-sector news reports.

Topics that boosted PPC’s online references included privatization news, negotiations with government officials, electricity price changes, fire damages at facilities, new jobs and union-related developments.

Electricity market competition alive despite restrictions

Though the main interest in retail electricity market data released on a monthly basis by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and IPTO, the power grid operator, is generally focused on the market shares held by main power utility PPC and rival independent suppliers, a closer look at the data provides insight into various trends.

The leeway offered to independent suppliers for market share gains may be limited, for a variety of reasons, as was recently reported by energypress, but, in spite of these limitations, PPC is steadily losing about one percent of its market share every month.

Competition is not waning as a result of the limited leeway offered to independent suppliers. On the contrary, these suppliers are moving to expand their client bases through carefully thought out moves.

PPC’s slower-than-expected overall market share reduction, now at about 85 percent, is greatly connected to market shares held in high and medium-voltage supply. LAGIE data shows that PPC’s market share in the high-voltage market rose from 10.09 percent in January to 14.45 percent in May.

In the mid-voltage market, involving major-scale enterprises consuming major electricity amounts, PPC’s market share fell from 18.78 percent in January to 16.79 percent in May. Among the major independent suppliers, Heron leads with 2.43 percent in May, up from 1.5 percent in January, and is followed by Protergia, up to 2.27 percent in May from 1.34 percent in January. Next in the rankings, Elpedison’s share reached 1.88 percent in May from 1.07 percent in January.

Interestingly, none of the independent suppliers registered a high-voltage market share decline between the months of April and May, the LAGIE data showed. Overall, independent suppliers gained 0.97 percent in the high-voltage category compared to PPC’s surrender of 0.25 percent between April and May.

NOME auction electricity amounts and prices offered as well as other factors such as PPC’s 15 percent discount offered to punctual customers and this corporation’s soft approach towards customers with arrears have helped the still-dominant utility maintain a firm grasp of the market, analysts have noted.


Retail electricity competition ‘needs production competition’

The absence of fair competition in the electricity market, at a production level, will also deprive the market of true competition at a retail level, Dinos Benroubi, the chief official at independent electricity supplier Protergia, stressed last night during a roundtable discussion titled the Impact of Fluctuating Oil and Energy Prices on the National Economy, organized by the Greek Energy Forum, an international thinktank.

Benroubi, who noted that annual electricity costs for the country’s household and industrial sectors amount to 6.5 billion euros, also addressed the hefty grid-connection costs faced by Greece’s electricity consumers.

The Protergia official asserted that only half the electricity bill amount paid by consumers concerns production costs. Transmission and distribution costs represent another part of the overall cost, while about a third concerns other surcharges, Benroubi remarked.

The public service compensation (YKO) surcharge added to electricity bills, an amount paid by mainlanders in order to equate electricity costs for the country’s islanders, as Benroubi explained, needs to be resolved through the interconnection of the Greek islands with the mainland, he highlighted.

Though the benefits promised by this interconnection would cover its investment cost in no more than three years, development of its two sub-projects, concerning the Cyclades and Crete, is being severely delayed, Benroubi noted.

The Protergia head also stressed that Greece needs to focus on pursuing EU goals concerning decarbonization, RES targets, energy efficiency, energy storage and a trend towards presuming [electricity production by electricity consumers through PV generation, etc]. Instead, Benroubi added, the focus is on maintaining a state-controlled monopoly holding an 87 percent share of the retail electricity market and battling to regain lost ground, Benroubi added, referring to the main power utility PPC.


Protergia leads independent firms in IPTO’s latest market share data

Latest market share data released by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, shows a virtual standstill for October with independent suppliers controlling an overall 11.2 percent, up slightly from September’s share of 11 percent.

IPTO’s figures, unlike those supplied by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, put independent power supplier Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, in top place among the independent players. Protergia has steadily followed Heron among the independent suppliers in the monthly LAGIE market reports.

Returning to the IPTO report, it put main power utility PPC’s retail market share in October at 88.8 percent, down from 89 percent in September.

Protergia ended October having captured a 2.99 percent share, up from 2.95 percent a month earlier.

Heron followed with 2.96 percent, up marginally from 2.94 percent. It was followed by Edison with a 2.42 percent share, up from 2.09 percent.

As for the smaller independent players, NRG was reported as capturing 0.78 percent, down from 0.80 percent in September. Volterra was next with 0.68 percent, a rise from September’s 0.57 percent. Watt + Volt followed with 0.54 percent, up from 0.51 percent. Green captured 0.37 percent, slightly less than September’s 0.41 percent.

The marginal market share discrepancies reported by IPTO and LAGIE have been attributed to slight variations in the formulas applied.

Natural gas gains further ground in electricity production

Propelled by lower natural gas prices as a result of the extended slump in international oil prices, natural gas-fueled electricity production in Greece is continuously capturing an increased share of total output while electricity producers are reporting improved profit performances.

This trend is highlighted by the balance sheets and earnings figures reported by Protergia and Elpedison, two the country’s three biggest independent electricity producers, as well as data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator. Heron, the country’s other major independent electricity producer, has yet to release its financial results.

Independent electricity producers enjoyed a considerable performance improvement in the first half of 2016, greatly increasing the utilization of their facilities, which led to impressive profit figures following a disappointing previous year. The increased electricity production levels prompted in increase in natural gas consumption.

At Elpedison, electricity production reached 1,049,000 MWh in the first half of this year, up dramatically from 253,000 MWh during the equivalent period a year earlier. Mytilineos, Protergia’s parent company, reported a 62.5 percent production increase at its power stations.

The sales figures at DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, also reflect this trend. They rose from 1,217 million Nm3 in the first half of 2015 to 1,771 million Nm3 in the first half of 2016, a 46 percent increase. According to the DEPA figures, released by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake in the state-controlled gas company, natural gas sales to electricity producers more than doubled in the first half compared to the equivalent period last year.

As for the financial results, Protergia posted a total turnover of 152.5 million euros in the first half of this year, up 77 percent from 86 million euros in the equivalent period last year. The company’s EBITDA rose to 27.2 million euros from 6.6 million euros.

Likewise, Elpedison posted first-half sales of 132 million euros, up from 65 million euros, and a sharp EBITDA increase to 13 million euros from losses of one million euros incurred in the first half last year.



Independent suppliers respond to PPC’s 15% discount offer

Less than a fortnight after the main power utility PPC’s 15 percent discount offer on electricity bills for punctual customers came into effect, independent suppliers are responding with similar discount offers of their own, on top of already competitive packages. The overall activity highlights the intensifying competition setting into Greece’s retail electricity market.

According to energypress sources, the majority of independent suppliers are in the process of reducing their electricity tariffs by levels of between ten and fifteen percent. Independent suppliers will then wait for electricity market developments to further unfold in September, when NOME auctions are expected to be introduced, before they consider making any further pricing policy revisions and new offers.

The upcoming NOME auctions, a bailout requirement, are intended to provide third parties with access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydropower sources as a measure to help break the utility’s dominance, now beginning to gradually erode.

The Mytilineos corporate group’s Protergia, one of the main independent electricity suppliers, has already officially announced a 15 percent discount for punctual customers. It arrives as an added bonus to Protergia’s already competitively priced offers.

The Terna Group’s Heron and Elpedison, a joint venture involving ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), Edison, and the Bobolas Group, both also vertically intergrated, like Protergia, have yet to unveil a response to PPC’s 15 percent discount offer. However, sources informed that both these suppliers will also reduce prices for customers paying electricity bills on time.

NRG, Wat+Volt, Green, and Volterra, all smaller players, are offering ten percent discounts, but officials announcements have yet to be made.

Protergia recently struck a deal with the Cosmote group that provides the independent power supplier with a broad retail market presence through the latter’s extensive nationwide network of Germanos and Cosmote outlets.

Heron and Elpedison are also maneuvering to establish similar agreements with other telecommunications companies. According to energypress sources, Heron is one step away from announcing a deal with Wind, while Elpedison has reached an advanced stage in talks with Vodafone.

Protergia ‘here to stay in electricity market after intentional delay’

Energy company Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, deliberately delayed its entry into Greece’s retail electricity market as conditions were unclear, but is here to stay now that it has entered the field, Dinos Benroubi, Deputy Managing Director at Protergia, told an an energy conference in Athens today.

Protergia has proceeded with investments worth one billion euros at a time when “most investors are seeking ways to get out of the country,” remarked Benroubi, who delivered a speech at a conference organized by TEE, the Technical Chamber of Greece, titled “Energy Market: Unlocking Greece’s Economic Potential.”

Borrowing from banks remains an extremely thorny isssue, Benroubi noted, while explaining that Protergia’s investment plan was carried out through company capital and shareholder support.

Commenting on the company’s renewable energy (RES) projects, Benroubi noted that Protergia currently operates 68 MW, is constructing facilities for a further 61 MW, and holds licenses for 120 MW of prospective projects awaiting legal clarification concerning the RES sector.

Benroubi announced that Protergia intends to make significant investments for new RES projects in 2017 and 2018.

‘More caution needed when talking of private investments’

Critics talking of opportunist investors in Greece’s electricity market, as well as of the need for private-sector investments by companies seeking to participate in a liberalized market, need to be more cautious with their words as the private sector has already poured significant amounts into the sector, Dinos Benroubi, Deputy Managing Director at Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, remarked yesterday during a speech at the Athens Energy Forum.

Benroubi was responding to claims made on a regular basis by the main power utility PPC for the need of greater private-sector investment in electricity production. Most recently, the argument was also adopted by the energy ministry.

The Protergia official noted that private-sector investors have placed greater amounts into electricity production than PPC, noting the overall sum invested in recent times exceeds 2.5 billion euros, while adding that Protergia, alone, has invested over one billion euros of private capital, not public money, over the past few years.

Benroubi pointed out that consumers do not care whether electricity is being produced by PPC or private-sector companies, noting that their primary concern is lower prices and better services.

He said offers superior to PPC’s ten percent discount for punctual professional category consumers, announced earlier this week, have been offered by private-sector companies for years.

“Private-sector suppliers have been selling at even lower prices and discounts greater that ten percent for quite a while. PPC followed the trend,” Benroubi said. “Private-sector suppliers have been rewarding punctual consumers over the past year or two. So let’s not contend that prices would not have been reduced had it not been for PPC. Prices were driven down by competition, which is what led PPC to offer the discounts,” he continued.

Benroubi challenged PPC to rise amid the developments and propose realistic solutions for the market’s liberalization and also press ahead with adjustments meeting bailout demands. These include the introduction of NOME auctions, to offer third parties access to PPC’s low-cost lignite sources, as well as a 50 percent reduction of PPC’s dominant market share by 2020. Rather than focus on points of disagreement, PPC could table its own realistic proposal that could be accepted, Benroubi noted.

The Protergia official said that the NOME auction plan, as it stands, would not be implemented as players will not reach an agreement.

Benroubi also described the “Little PPC” plan, or partial sale of the power utility, as not realistic, adding that IPTO, the power grid operator, needs to comply with European standards rather than change opinion on the system’s needs each year.