New bill arrears rule restricting electricity consumer switches

Several thousand electricity consumers were blocked from switching suppliers in September, a trend that has continued this month, following a rule revision enabling suppliers to stop their customers from switching to rivals if they have not fully settled outstanding energy bills, suppliers have informed energypress.

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO implemented the new rule at the beginning of September following a request by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Though suppliers have sought closer monitoring of outstanding electricity bills linked with consumers preparing to switch companies, the new rule’s level of strictness is believed to even be impeding the mobility of punctual consumers with small and unintentional arrears left to pay.

Suppliers are now concerned about the measure’s impact on competition as even the smallest of bureaucratic obstacles can be enough to deter consumers from switching energy companies.

Consumer switches, both from power utility PPC to independent suppliers and from one independent firm to another, are currently high and would be even higher if the new restriction were not imposed, company officials noted.

Suppliers have protested that the rule revision was not preceded by public consultation.

Ellaktor, EDPR form alliance seeking greater RES market penetration

The Ellaktor group and EDP Renewables, both aiming for swifter and deeper RES market penetration, have established a strategic partnership following talks that began last summer.

The two companies plan to invest one billion euros over the next four to five years for the development of wind farms with a total capacity of 900 MW, sources have informed.

EDP Renewables was driven towards forming this partnership by the belief that its existing Greek portfolio of licenses, offering a capacity of 152 MW accumulated through RES auctions staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, would be insufficient to secure investment opportunities in the country.

The Ellaktor group, holding a RES portfolio of 460 MW, is looking to further bolster its position in the renewable energy market.

By uniting their portfolios, the two companies believe they will be better positioned for anticipated market changes and opportunities.

Ellaktor stands to also benefit from resulting access into lower-cost capital markets.

The plans of the two partners include development of two wind farms with a total capacity of 436.8 MW in central and southern parts of the island Evia, slightly northeast of Athens. The two firms have acquired licenses for these projects from other companies.

A further 460 MW will be developed from a portfolio of existing licenses. These licenses are not linked with Ellaktor’s portfolio of wind parks already operating.

Ellaktor already holds a total of 26 RES projects, all operating. They are comprised of 24 wind energy farms with a total capacity of 484 MW, one small-scale hydropower plant (5 MW) and one solar energy farm (2 MW), offering a total installed capacity of 491 MW.

Minister urges target model readiness for smooth launch

Energy minister Costis Hatzidakis has urged all target model officials – including RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy; power grid operator IPTO; the energy exchange and EnExClear – to have resolved any pending issues so that a smooth launch of the model may be achieved on November 1.

Describing the upcoming date as historic for Greece’s energy sector, the minister was essentially conveying concerns of energy producers, traders and suppliers, not yet fully convinced that all market systems will be in full working order for the imminent launch.

The balancing market, in particular, remains a concern. The energy exchange is overseeing the day-ahead and intraday markets and IPTO will manage the balancing market.

Simulated dry-run testing of these markets, conducted for a period of over two months to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model launch, was completed about a fortnight ago.

Greece’s lead-up to the EU target model has been affected by a series of delays. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, is clearly determined to see the target model procedure through, not only because it is an EU commitment but also because of its prospective market and consumer benefits.

The target model will result in market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets, the intention being to eliminate market distortions and intensify competition.

A final full-scale test of all market systems is scheduled for October 27 while all is anticipated to be ready on October 30 ahead of the November 1 launch.

DEDDIE’s WACC close to 7%, RAE framework approval soon

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s new WACC level, determining the yield, required by potential buyers, will be set at just below 7 percent for a four-year period covering 2021 to 2024, energypress sources have informed.

This WACC level, well over rates of no more than 2.5 percent offered by respective European operators, is expected to be seen as a very attractive offer by investors.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been given the green light by the energy ministry to hasten proceedings for a launch of the DEDDIE/HEDNO privatization, offering a 49 percent stake, in November, as promised by the ministry.

DEDDIE/HEDNO has awaited RAE’s approval of its new regulatory framework, including the WACC level, to launch the tender. This framework will include an option for a four-year extension, covering 2025 to 2028.

If the privatization is launched next month, it could be completed within the first quarter of 2021.

Market officials have forecast a DEDDIE/HEDNO selling price of close to 1.5 billion euros for the 49 percent stake.

The operator’s assets, essentially comprising networks totaling 239,000 kilometers in length, plus substations, are estimated to be worth 3.5 billion euros.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO business plan for 2021 to 2024, still subject to official approval, should excite investors. It features investments worth 2 billion euros and network 5G add-on potential for a wide range of telephony and internet services.

The prospective installation of 7.5 million digital power meters in place of conventional meters around the country, an upgrade budgeted at 850 million euros, is another strong selling point. Recovery funds will be sought for this project, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis recently informed. This would save the operator a considerable amount.

Germany’s EON, Italy’s Enel, Enedis, a subsidiary of France’s EDF, as well as a number of Chinese companies had showed interest, unofficially, in the DEDDIE/HEDNO sale well before the pandemic broke out.

 

 

RAE set to permit gas link fee discounts after initial hesitation

Following initial hesitation, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears set to permit distribution network connection fee discounts offered by natural gas distributors to attract new customer. But this approval will only apply to areas where gas market penetration levels remain low.

RAE has hesitated to approve such discounts offered by gas utility DEPA’s subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA – the three gas distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively – fearing the special offers could be regarded as a form of state aid by the European Commission’s competition officials.

However, DEPA Infrastructure, a new DEPA entity now controlling these three gas distribution subsidiaries, recently warned that RAE’s delays are undermining its privatization procedure. This warning was highlighted in a letter to the authority that was also shared with privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry.

RAE’s delay in endorsing EDA tariffs for 2019 to 2022 has consequently also placed the gas company’s development plan in turmoil, DEPA Infrastructure pointed out in the letter.

RAE has overcome its concerns and is now preparing to endorse the tariffs. The authority will also permit connection fee discounts in areas where natural gas market penetration levels do not exceed 25 percent.

In areas where natural gas market penetration levels are exceeded but not greater than 75 percent, RAE will permit connection fee discounts of up to 90 percent in 2022, 80 percent in 2023, 70 percent in 2024 and 60 percent in 2025.

The authority will not endorse any connection fee discounts for municipalities where natural gas market penetration levels exceed 75 percent.

 

New market dry-run testing to end this week, target model launch on Nov. 1

The dry-run testing procedure for market systems ahead of the forthcoming target model launch, scheduled for November 1, will be finalized at the end of this week, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange and power grid operator IPTO have jointly decided.

Dry-run testing of the day-ahead, intraday and balancing markets began on August 3 to test their limits and operating ability ahead of the target model’s launch, aiming for market coupling, or harmonization of EU wholesale markets.

Market coupling, to increase competition and lower wholesale energy prices, will ultimately lead to energy union, the EU strategy seeking to offer consumers secure, sustainable, competitive and lower-cost energy.

All domestic parties involved, as well as the energy ministry, have ascertained the Greek launch will take place on November 1 following previous delays.

Even during these final days of simulated testing, day-ahead market prices have, at times, continued to display discrepancies with Day-Ahead Schedule price levels.

This has been attributed to the absence, from dry-run testing, of many traders who participate in the Day-Ahead Schedule, meaning the price levels of the two situations are based on different data.

Though balancing market prices have improved considerably as the simulated testing has progressed, following discrepancies, conclusions cannot be made until actual market conditions come into effect.

Meanwhile, public consultation by RAE on a market monitoring mechanism and a market surveillance mechanism for the new markets is due to be completed next Monday.

The market monitoring mechanism will seek, through structural and performance indicators, to evaluate levels of concentration and the market power of each participant, while the market surveillance mechanism will focus on identifying and combating strategies detrimental to competition.

The next step, once the new markets are launched, will be to market couple, initially with the Italian market, by the end of the year, followed by the Bulgarian market, in the first quarter of 2021, Greek energy minister Costis Hatzidakis recently informed.

 

 

IPTO’s Ariadne Interconnection minority share offer resurfaces

Power grid operator IPTO has reopened the prospect of making available to investors a minority stake in its subsidiary Ariadne Interconnection, established for the development of the Crete-Athens interconnection.

The possible sale essentially remained stagnant during a recent period of administrative changes at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Ariadne Interconnection has been commissioned the project’s construction IPTO but will cease to be involved in any way once the project is delivered to the operator for operation.

IPTO’s administration reminded RAE, in a letter forwarded just days ago, about a concession agreement it has signed with Ariadne Interconnection, offering a detailed description of the relations between the two companies for the Crete-Athens grid interconnection project.

The project was originally planned to be a segment of a wider interconnection plan to link the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli electricity grids, with EuroAsia, a consortium of Cypriot interests, at the helm, before IPTO withdrew the Crete-Athens section for its development as a national project.

IPTO has noted a minority partner in Ariadne Interconnection could be offered a stake of up to 40 percent.

China’s SGCC, a strategic partner of IPTO holding a 24 percent stake, informed, some time ago, that it wants to acquire a 20 percent stake of Ariadne Interconnection. European operators such as Belgium’s Elia and France’s RTE, as well as major investment groups have also indicated they would be interested.

 

RAE issues undermining DEPA Infrastructure privatization

Delays, instability and flawed intervention by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on important operating issues concerning gas utility DEPA’s subsidiaries EDA Attiki, EDA Thess and DEDA – the three distributors covering the wider Athens area, Thessaloniki-Thessaly and rest of Greece, respectively – are undermining the privatization procedure for DEPA Infrastructure, a new DEPA entity placed for sale, DEPA Infrastructure has warned in a letter to the authority.

In the letter, also forwarded to privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry, DEPA Infrastructure complains of a RAE delay in endorsing EDA tariffs for 2019 to 2022, which has consequently placed the gas company’s development plan in turmoil.

Besides not having reached a decision on gas distribution pricing policy, the authority has changed the WACC level three times since last year, including recently, which has negatively impacted the yields of DEPA subsidiary investments, sources noted.

Also, RAE regards initiatives taken by the three gas distributors to attract more consumers to the natural gas market as a form of state aid, DEPA Infrastructure protests in the letter, referring to distribution network connection fee discounts offered by the distributors, as well as subsidy support for natural gas system installations.

Any moves to curb these initiatives promoting gas usage would derail the natural gas sector’s energy-mix penetration target for 2030, as specified in the National Energy and Climate Plan, DEPA Infrastructure contends.

These unfavorable conditions threaten to delay the DEPA Infrastructure privatization, company sources stressed.

The sale procedure’s video data room is still lacking vital information for prospective bidders, who could begin seeing the DEPA Infrastructure privatization as a high-risk investment, the sources noted, adding that WACC level reductions will ultimately reduce the market value of DEPA Infrastructure and the subsidiaries.

DEPA Commercial, DEPA Infrastructure binding-bid deadlines extended

The second-round, binding-bid deadlines for the privatizations of gas utility DEPA’s two new entities, DEPA Commercial and DEPA Infrastructure, have once again been reset for latter dates despite the government’s recent approval of privatization fund TAIPED’s revised Asset Development Plan.

According to sources, the new binding-bids deadline for DEPA Commercial, a privatization expected to draw major interest as a result of the company’s strong market standing and potential, has been reset for March, instead of December.

According to some sources, TAIPED wants to include improved DEPA Commercial results anticipated for the third quarter into the sale’s video data room, whose data will be assessed by prospective bidders once they sign confidentiality agreements.

TAIPED will, as a result, aim to achieve a higher selling price for DEPA Commercial, which has recaptured market share losses.

Other sources insist the rescheduled date is linked to an uncertainty felt by investors over DEPA’s ongoing legal dispute with ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals).

A DEPA appeal of a court verdict that disapproved the utility’s pricing policy for ELFE is scheduled to take place in January, while a ruling will be delivered even later. Investors want clarity on this front before they can submit binding bids.

DEPA Infrastructure’s deadline for binding bids has now been rescheduled for February instead of January.

Pundits have attributed this development to a failure by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to finalize a gas distribution network pricing policy by September, as had been planned. The authority has yet to offer a new date for the new network pricing policy, sources said.

Prospective bidders consider this pricing detail crucial as it determines the earnings level of DEPA Infrastructure.

 

Revision to ensure HEDNO framework for privatization

A legislative revision set to be submitted to parliament by the energy ministry will enable the implementation of a new regulatory framework for DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, as of January 1, 2021, as planned by a revised schedule.

The operator’s new framework, including two four-year periods covering 2021 to 2024 and 2025 to 2028, was initially scheduled to be approved by June 30 but this date was missed as a result of the pandemic’s impact and a leadership change at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Besides being crucial for the market’s operation, the new regulatory framework is a prerequisite for the announcement of the operator’s privatization, to offer prospective buyers a 49 percent stake.

The operator’s WACC rate is expected to be announced in the lead up, either this month or next, if no further delays hamper the overall procedure.

Gas distributors want surcharge rebate decision cancelled

Gas distributors DEDA, EDA Thess and EDA Attiki will seek the nullification of a decision by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, requiring them to gradually reimburse industrial enterprises for increased network surcharges  between August 14, 2015 and December 1, 2016.

The RAE ruling was delivered following a complaint by EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

The amount that needs to be returned by the three distributors to energy-intensive industries is estimated to be between 2.5 and three million euros.

As a first step, DEDA, EDA Thess and EDA Attiki will apply for the RAE decision to be nullified and, if unsuccessful, will then resort to legal action, including at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court.

A bill ratified in 2015 enabled the gas distributors to impose a temporary network surcharge of 4 euros per MWh, prompting a reaction from energy-intensive industries.

EVIKEN argued that the increase in distribution charges did not reflect the costs of each distributor, was a disproportionate burden for certain categories of network users, while adding that distribution charges should be set by RAE, not through legislation.

According to the RAE decision, the gas distributors will need to introduce measures reimbursing industrial consumers for higher network surcharge payments over the aforementioned 16-month period. Payment of the reimbursements, to be determined by a specific formula, will be possible through installments over a period of as long as five years, according to the RAE decision.

Committee checking relevance of DEPA gas auction measure

The Competition Committee is conducting research to determine whether gas auctions that have required gas utility DEPA to make available minimum gas amounts to suppliers for fairer competition are still necessary amid the liberalized market.

The committee imposed these gas auctions on DEPA in 2014 when the utility was dominating Greece’s natural gas market under completely different market conditions.

Much has changed since the sector’s liberalization. A total of 7 gas importers and 25 retail suppliers are now active in the Greek market.

The study was prompted following a request by DEPA. As part of the process, the competition committee is consulting gas companies as well as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, before deciding if the gas auctions should be abolished.

According to sources, RAE pointed out that, given DEPA’s greatly reduced market share – less than 40 percent in 2019 and the first half of 2020 – the measure’s maintenance, without any benefits for the utility in exchange, offers rival gas companies an advantage.

RAE supports that any such measures must be universally imposed on all gas suppliers based on certain criteria, such as market share levels.

In addition, price levels at the DEPA gas auctions are deemed too high by players, limiting buying interest.

At the time of the gas auction measure’s introduction, in 2014, DEPA was obligated to offer other players 10 percent of the annual gas amount it was importing. This figure was gradually increased, reaching 17 percent in 2018.

Greek law initially required any gas wholesaler with a market share of more than 60 percent to make gas quantities available to other traders through auctions. This level was reduced to 40 percent in 2018.

DEDDIE sale launch awaiting RAE approval of framework

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO is awaiting the approval of its new regulatory framework by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, needed for the launch of a tender concerning the operator’s privatization, to offer investors a 49 percent stake.

As things stand, RAE is expected to give the green light within October, energypress sources informed.

The operator’s new regulatory framework, to be valid for a four-year period, from 2021 to 2024, and feature an option for a four-year extension, was forwarded for public consultation in June, but a change of leadership at RAE early in July delayed the process.

The operator’s new WACC level, determining the yield for potential buyers, is expected to be announced in October or November so that the privatization’s tender can be announced before the end of the year.

At present, the operator’s annual revenue totals 800 million euros.

It remains to be seen if the overall plan will be carried out as planned as the framework’s approval is a complicated task requiring plenty of work, while RAE faces no legal obligation to deliver on schedule.

Last week, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis, speaking at an Economist conference, assured the DEDDIE/HEDNO privatization will begin in November. However, certain pundits contend the current schedule is overoptimistic.

The new DEDDIE/HEDNO business plan – envisaging an increase of investments to a level of between 350 and 400 million euros, annually, considerably higher than previous levels of around 150 million euros; as well as the recruitment of 1,000 staff members for technical posts – cannot be considered complete without a new regulatory framework.

RAE freezes RES producer certificate process, prompting investor unrest

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, without explanation, has stopped issuing RES producer certificates for older applications submitted between October, 2018 and December, 2019, the first round of applications examined through new rules.

The development has prompted strong reaction and unrest among investors, who, according to comments made to energypress, have paid their related fees but not received RES producer certificates, as stipulated by the new law.

This round of applications underwent processing through a new online system adopted by RAE. RES investors were requested, via email, to pay a related fee through the banking system.

Responding to questions on the issue, the IT company handling RAE’s new software said it was ordered by RAE to not proceed to the next stage, offering automated RES producer certificates.

The authority is concurrently examining older applications submitted until June, 2018; applications lodged between October, 2018 and December, 2019; and also preparing new terms for a forthcoming round of applications rescheduled for December, instead of October.

Target model ‘dangerous without monitoring mechanism’

The launch of target model markets without a fully functional market monitoring mechanism from the very first day, if not sooner, threatens to undermine the entire effort, two industry associations, ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, and ESEPIE, the Hellenic Association of Electricity Trading & Supply Companies, have reiterated in warnings to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

RAE is currently preparing a market monitoring mechanism, with support from a specialized consultant from abroad, for the target model markets, but the project is still a long way off, energypress sources have informed. RAE is believed to have received an initial draft of the monitoring mechanism plan now being processed in detail for a finalized version.

The market monitoring mechanism, needed to ensure healthy electricity market competition, will accumulate data from power grid operator IPTO and the Greek energy exchange to identify possible market manipulation practices.

The target model, aiming to harmonize Greece’s electricity market with wholesale electricity markets in the EU, faces a delay of a few weeks. Authorities identified pending issues in the lead-up to the previous launch date, scheduled for September 17.

Even the smallest of flaws in a market as limited in size and depth as the Greek market can prompt major financial consequences for participants, ESEPIE warned in its letter to RAE.

The implementation of an effective monitoring mechanism can prevent such setbacks and is essential for creating a climate of confidence in the new markets, the association stressed, adding the mechanism should have been applied during dry testing staged in the lead-up to the target model launch.

Officials to decide on next round of RES applications, RAE overloaded

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, overloaded with a backlog of RES production license applications ahead of a new round, will discuss its pressing situation with the energy ministry’s secretary-general Alexandra Sdoukou at a meeting tomorrow.

The energy ministry will then decide on a date for the new round of applications. Officials have scheduled a next round for October, also stipulated by law. RES investors have expressed heightened interest during the approach.

RAE is concurrently examining older applications submitted until June, 2018, applications lodged between October, 2018 and December, 2019, and also preparing new terms for the forthcoming applications.

Older applications submitted until June, 2018 are being processed with support from software designed specifically for this purpose. These applications, numbering approximately 300, will also need to be examined, one by one, by the RAE board.

Similar software is also being used for the processing and examination of applications submitted between October, 2018 and December, 2019. Though this process is simpler, the numbers are bigger, tallying some 1,400.

RAE still has plenty of work to do to finalize a detailed proposal for producer certificate terms, intended to simplify the RES licensing procedure. Once ready, this proposal will need to be forwarded to the energy ministry, which, in turn, must sign a ministerial decision to bring the plan into effect.

Record-level interest by RES investors has been projected for the next round of applications. Two previous rounds that had been scheduled for March and June were not staged.

Pending issues to delay target model launch by a few weeks

The target model’s scheduled September 17 launch date is expected to be postponed by a few weeks following the identification, by authorities, of crucial unresolved issues, even at regulatory level, as well as discrepancies between dry-run market testing results and actual market conditions.

The energy ministry is believed to be preparing to announce the postponement over the next few days. A delay of at least four weeks is expected.

Officials identified the biggest discrepancies in the balancing market, one of the four market systems of the target model, also including day-ahead, intraday and forward markets.

Power grid operator IPTO forwarded a technical decision on balancing market clearing matters for public consultation last Friday, inviting market participants to comment by September 16, just one day ahead of the target model’s scheduled launch.

Other pending issues, sources noted, include a procedure for the selection of reserve power stations; a regulatory framework determining offers by participating units; as well as mechanisms enabling RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to monitor the behavior of market participants.

Industrial consumers rebated for gas network usage surcharge

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has delivered an official decision vindicating the industrial sector, after a four year wait, in a dispute concerning temporary natural gas distribution surcharges imposed on consumers by ordering offsetting measures leading to rebates for the period in question, between August 14, 2015 to December 1, 2016.

EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, challenged the introduction of this temporary gas distribution surcharge for industrial gas consumers, deemed as a breach of EU rules. It burdened industrial gas consumers at a rate of 4 euros per MWh.

Industrial consumers will receive rebates, based on a specific formula, covering the aforementioned period, according to the RAE decision, published in the government gazette yesterday.

According to industrial sector estimates, the surcharge sum to be returned to industrial consumers is estimated between 2.5 million and thee million euros. The rebate may be distributed in installments over a period of up to five years.

This surcharge did not reflect the costs of operators, arrived as a disproportionate cost for certain consumer categories using the network, and should have been determined and introduced by RAE, not through a legislative procedure, EVIKEN argued in its case before being vindicated by RAE as well as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy.

Discrepancies observed exceeded 100 percent for most energy-intensive industrial enterprises.

The industrial sector will not tolerate any breach of EU rules concerning the new market’s framework, Antonis Kontoleon, the head official at EVIKEN, stressed.

Brussels’ Directorate-General for Energy had supported EVIKEN on all aspects of the dispute through a surveillance report delivered in November, essentially preannouncing the RAE decision.

 

 

 

Extra week for dry-run tests ahead of target model launch

A dry run procedure offering simulated testing of all market systems and resolving any glitches ahead of the target model launch, scheduled for September 17, has been extended for another week until September 6.

Authorities met last Friday for a latest review of dry-run results. ESAI/HAIPP, the Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers, in its observations, primarily focused on the balancing market.

The association also objected to integrated programming process revisions proposed by power grid operator IPTO, as well as the timing of these proposals, just days ahead of the official launch of markets.

ESAI/HAIPP is expected to forward its views on the issue, in writing, to the energy ministry, later today or tomorrow. The matter essentially concerns the calculation of reserves to be covered by the system for its security.

The Energy Exchange, to operate the day-ahead, intraday and forward markets, and IPTO, operating the balancing market, are both scheduled – based on a ministerial decision – to deliver an interim report this week for the energy ministry and RAE on the progress and level of readiness of market systems.

These systems have been undergoing continual testing since August 3. The number of dry-run participants has increased in recent days, while price levels are now at far more rational levels, especially in the day-ahead market.

All market participants, approximately 60 in total, have until September 4 to submit required supporting documents to the Energy Exchange in order to receive membership registration certificates by September 11.

 

RAE facing backlog of RES license bids as new round nears

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is battling against time to process a backlog of RES production license applications ahead of a new round of applications, to be staged as a revised system offering producer certificates. This new framework is legislated to commence in October.

The authority is concurrently examining older applications submitted until June, 2018, applications lodged between October, 2018 and December, 2019, and also preparing new terms for the forthcoming applications scheduled to begin in October.

An overwhelming majority of investors has responded to a recent RAE request calling for reconfirmations and updates of older applications.

Older applications submitted until June, 2018 are being processed with support from software designed specifically for this purpose. These applications, numbering approximately 300, will also need to be examined, one by one, by the RAE board.

Similar software is also being used for the processing and examination of applications submitted between October, 2018 and December, 2019. Though this process is simpler, the numbers are bigger, tallying some 1,400.

RAE still has plenty of work to do to finalize a detailed proposal for producer certificate terms. Once ready, it will need to be forwarded to the energy ministry, which, in turn, must sign a ministerial decision to bring the plan into effect.

Two previous rounds that had been scheduled for March and June this year were not staged as a result of the upcoming new rules and change of licensing framework. Judging by current RES investor indications, the next round is expected to attract a record number of applications.

This forecast adds to RAE’s concerns about the backlog of applications that need to be cleared.

 

 

 

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.

Clearer framework needed for new gas distribution networks

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has identified the need for clear-cut, objective terms, based on technocratic criteria, for an improved strategy to help take natural gas to regions around the country without distribution network access at present.

Approval procedures for development plans submitted by gas distribution companies are currently in progress, and, in addition, the distribution sector is being restructured.

The energy ministry has made clear it wants a consistent and modern framework to facilitate the development of new distribution networks in as many parts of Greece as possible, a government objective.

Gas sector conditions also need to be made as clear as possible ahead of the privatization of DEPA Infrastructure, owning gas distributor EDA Attiki, servicing the wider Athens area; 51 percent of EDA Thess, covering the Thessaloniki area; and DEDA, distributing to all other regions not serviced by the two aforementioned firms.

RAE is now preparing a new framework concerning the appraisal and approval of development plans by gas distribution companies, as well as a formula for their earnings.

 

 

 

Safety mechanism to limit energy exchange fluctuations

Sizeable electricity price discrepancies – compared to day-ahead scheduling market levels – observed by officials in ongoing dry-run testing of Energy Exchange markets ahead of the target model launch scheduled for September 17 and attributed to unrealistic offers made by participants, are expected to narrow as more participants become involved.

Even so, officials supervising the simulated testing of all four Energy Exchange markets – day-ahead, intraday, forward, balancing markets – plan to introduce a safety mechanism enabling participants to make improved follow-up offers if price levels fluctuate beyond upper and lower limits.

Officials at related agencies and the energy ministry are confident the dry run will be completed on time despite being up against a very tight schedule.

The head officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange, and power grid operator IPTO held a summit meeting yesterday with energy minister Costis Hatzidakis and the ministry’s secretary-general, Alexandra Sdoukou, to discuss the progress of the dry run. Other officials meet on a weekly basis to discuss the effort.

To date, any technical issues that have arisen have been resolved. Both the Energy Exchange and IPTO appear ready for the real-life launch. Market systems have been undergoing continual testing since August 3.

However, a shortage in the number of dry-run participants, especially traders, has been observed. This is concerning as current evaluations of the market system performances cannot be considered entirely accurate. All key players – gas-based electricity producers, suppliers, traders, RES producers and aggregators – must be involved in the simulated testing for a dependable picture.

Once the Energy Exchange and IPTO have declared their readiness, RAE will need to offer its approval of the dry run on September 11, a week before the target model’s scheduled September 17 launch.

The aim is for all players to have entered the market systems on September 15 to prepare their orders for the launch two days later.

Alexandroupoli FSRU investment decision later in ’20

Investors behind the Alexandroupoli FSRU are expected to make final decisions on the project’s development in the final quarter of this year.

Two pending issues, the completion of a regulatory framework for the project, as well as approval by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition of the project and funding via the National Strategic Reference Framework (2014-2020), are expected to be resolved by the final quarter.

Also, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to reach a preliminary decision exempting the FSRU from compulsory access to third parties as well as tariff adjustments every three to four years. This decision, needed for the project’s regulatory framework, is expected by late October or early November, when the European Commission’s approval is anticipated.

The Directorate-General for Competition will also need to give the green light for NSRF funding.

Once these pending issues are all resolved, investors will be able to decide on the project’s development, expected to require two years to construct. Investors envision a launch in 2023.

Yesterday’s anticipated entry of Bulgartransgaz, for a 20 percent stake, highlights the project’s regional prospects. This regional dimension will be highlighted even further if ongoing Romanian interest is materialized.  Talks that have been going on for some time were disrupted by the pandemic.

For the time being, Greek gas utility DEPA, Gaslog and Bulgartransgaz each have 20 percent stakes, while the Copelouzos group holds a 40 percent share. The entry into the project of Gastrade, as a fifth partner, remains pending.

Most crucial for the project’s prospects, a market test completed in March showed that the Alexandroupoli FSRU is sustainable. The test prompted a big response from Greek and international gas traders, who placed capacity reservation bids for a total of 2.6 billion cubic meters per year.

US interest for LNG supply via the Alexandroupoli FSRU is strong. Last year, Cheniere sold a big shipment to Greek gas utility DEPA, while a further ten American shipments have been made so far this year.

RAE, competition committee set to establish closer ties

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is set to sign a memorandum of cooperation with Greece’s Competition Committee for more effective coordination and monitoring of the market.

RAE’s newly appointed chief executive, Thanasis Dagoumas, took the initiative to propose closer relations between the two authorities. The Competition Committee appears to have responded favorably. Its leader, Giannis Lianos, has met with the new RAE chief, while the two officials are believed to have agreed to soon sign an agreement for cooperation.

RAE and the competition committee will retain their responsibilities, as stipulated by law, but will seek greater coordination and collaboration on closely related matters involving both authorities.

Meanwhile, officials are also working to establish a network linking all the market’s independent authorities, including the National Committee for Telecommunications and Post Offices, RAE, the Competition Committee, as well as the regulatory authorities for the country’s ports and railways. Further collaboration, joint action and exchange of knowhow is being sought through this initiative.

In addition, Dagoumas, the new RAE boss, plans to soon meet with the leadership at ACER, Europe’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, signaling the Greek authority’s willingness to adopt a more extroverted role.

The new RAE administration is keen to participate in the decision-making process for Balkan and European matters, not just implement EU directives and ACER decisions, Dagoumas recently told Greek Parliament’s permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

Crucial week for target model’s dry-run tests of market systems

Though any glitches that have emerged during ongoing simulated testing of all energy exchange market systems ahead of a target model launch scheduled for September 17 have been quickly resolved, officials remain concerned about the venture’s level of readiness.

The number of participants for the dry run’s virtual transactions, especially traders, has been insufficient, while participants are submitting unrealistic offers, officials have observed.

This has prompted major fluctuations as well as sizable electricity price discrepancies compared to day-ahead scheduling market levels.

Market systems at the Energy Exchange, to operate the day-ahead, intraday and forward markets, and at the power grid operator IPTO, operating the balancing market, have been undergoing continual testing since August 3.

This week will be crucial as an increase in the number of participants is anticipated, while heightened maturity in bidding methods is also expected, all of which should result in safer conclusions.

For the time being, a deferral of the target model’s September 17 launch date is not being considered. All operators must declare complete readiness to RAE by September 11 if this launch date is to be maintained.

Electricity price levels, once the target model is launched, cannot be forecast at present. This could be possible within the next few days.

Officials at the energy ministry, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the energy exchange and IPTO, all monitoring the effort, are scheduled to stage their next weekly meeting tomorrow.

Two, possibly three, bidders for South Kavala UGS license

An upcoming tender to offer an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) license for the almost depleted South Kavala offshore natural gas field in the country’s north is expected to attract the interest of two, or possibly three, bidding teams.

Interested parties have been given an extension to express non-binding first-round interest. Prospective participants are busy preparing.

The participation of Storengy – a three-member consortium formed by France’s Engie, Energean Oil & Gas, holder of the South Kavala field’s license, and construction firm GEK-Terna – is considered a certainty as this consortium was established in anticipation of this tender.

Greek gas grid operator DESFA, increasingly active, since its privatization, in various projects, including some beyond its more customary operator-related bounds, is seen as another certain bidder for the South Kavala UGS license.

Senfluga, the consortium of companies that acquired a 66 percent stake of DESFA, appears very interested in the South Kavala UGS tender. This consortium’s current line-up is comprised of: Snam (54%), Enagas (18%), Fluxys (18%) and Copelouzos group member Damco (10%).

Though Senfluga’s three foreign partners – Snam, Enagas and Fluxys – are examining the prospect of joining DESFA to express joint interest, separate bids from the two sides are considered likeliest. The main reason for this has to do with certain tender rules that restrict the ability of consortiums participating in the first round to then reshuffle, if needed.

Pricing policy regulations expected from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, ahead of binding offers, will be crucial to how the tender plays out as these rules will determine the project’s earnings potential and level of bids.