A legal case filed by two local PV producer associations, SPEF and PSAF, to the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, against a ministerial decision supporting the demand response mechanism (interruptability) has been further postponed, beyond the hearing’s latest date, which had been set for September 19.
SPEF and PSAF have challenged the mechanism citing technical, financial and legal reasons. The plaintiffs contend that the mechanism has being unfairly applied and, as a result, proven detrimental to the interests of PV producers.
The mechanism enables major industrial enterprises to be compensated when the TSO (ADMIE/IPTO) requests that they shift their energy usage by lowering or stopping consumption during high-demand peak hours so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.
Following the latest postponement, the case is expected to be heard in 2018.
Greece’s current demand response mechanism is set to expire at the end of this month. Local industrialists are pressuring for a three-year extension. The Greek government is supporting this demand. Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis submitted an extension request to Brussels on July 25. If successful, the mechanism’s validity will be extended to September, 2020.
Payment delay concerns affecting renewable energy producers in Greece have eased over the past month and a half following the commitment by the main power utility PPC to inject into the RES special account 260 million euros from 620 million euros linked to the split of IPTO, the power grid operator, from PPC, as a means of settling a portion of arrears owed to the country’s RES producers.
In the lead-up, RES producers have applied pressure on PPC to channel IPTO-related money into the RES special account.
This move has reduced the average number of days of RES production owed to producers to 130 from 190. If payment for RES production concerning the month of February commences at the end of this week, as is anticipated, then this average figure is expected to fall further, to 120 days, a level demanded, as a first objective, by two photovoltaic producer associations, SPEF and PSAF, in meetings with energy ministry officials in March.
PPC has attributed its payment delays to its unpaid receivables, which are believed to have reached a level of 2.5 billion euros, highlighting the struggle faced by numerous consumers to meet electricity bill payments amid the recession.
However, critics, including PSAF officials, have contended that PPC’s unpaid receivables figure ought to have reached a level of between 5 and 6 billion euros in order to justify the utility’s delayed payments to RES producers.
Besides meeting with energy ministry officials, the two aforementioned PV associations have also resorted to legal action against PPC.
Two photovoltaic associations, SPEF and PSAF, have testified at an Athens Court of First Instance in support of LAGIE, Electricity Market Operator, which has filed a case against IPTO, the power grid operator, in reaction to overdue payments concerning the RES special account.
The head officials of both PV associations pledged to offer additional support to LAGIE for two further cases to be submitted against IPTO as well as HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, covering the entire amount owed to LAGIE by the two operators.
LAGIE is seeking payments covering a five-year period plus interest for delays. SPEF and PSAF officials noted that the days of interest-free payment delays for the operators, at the expense of the RES special account, have now ended.
Renewable energy producers have remained unpaid for seven months and, as a result, are unable to meet various obligations, including banking, taxation, business and personal living expenses, the PV associations noted in a statement.
According to official data, the RES current account deficit in May reached 75 million euros, while RES producers linked to the grid are owed 738 million euros, not including VAT, for output from September, 2016 to March this year.
SPEF and PSAF, both photovoltaic producer associations, have requested their representative lawyers to take legal action on their behalf against LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator, and the main power utility PPC over delayed payments to PV producers for output, board members of the two associations have informed energypress.
Both PV associations recently chose to suspend plans for legal action following a meeting with PPC chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis, who promised PV production payment delays would be dealt with. This expectation, however, failed to come through, prompting the associations to end their waiting periods and order legal action.
The PV associations intend to accuse LAGIE of delaying planned legal challenges against the electricity market operators IPTO and HEDNO, both subsidiaries of the main power utility PPC.
As for PPC, the PV associations, in their legal challenges, will accuse the power utility of withholding RES-supporting surcharge payments received through electricity bills. The PV associations will argue that PPC is not relaying these RES-supporting amounts to IPTO and HEDNO, part of the process before the amounts reach LAGIE, but instead using the money for other utility needs, which, ultimately, is depriving RES producers of entitled payments.
The two associations estimate RES-supporting amounts that have been collected by PPC but not relayed to IPTO and HEDNO – before being passed on to LAGIE and the RES producers – at around 350 to 400 million euros.