Electricity bill complaints made to RAE abound

Consumer complaints about electricity bills submitted to a customer services platform set up by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, have abounded, reaching 5,457 between last September, when the platform, MyRAE, was established, and May 8, according to figures presented to parliament by the authority’s president Athanasios Dagoumas.

Roughly nine in ten consumer complaints submitted to the RAE platform have concerned electricity bills, while, more specifically, over half of these concern electricity-bill problems.

A total of 1,234 consumers, roughly one-fifth of the number that submitted complaints, disputed their electricity bill charges, the most common complaint. A total of 560 consumers complained about adjustment clauses included in their energy bills, while 327 consumers protested about insufficient information on energy tariffs and surcharges.

The RAE chief, speaking in parliament, noted that electricity suppliers found to have violated electricity market regulations will, besides penalties, also be forced to reimburse affected consumers.

 

RAE to cut extra WACC for electricity interconnections

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will eliminate any extra weighted average cost of capital (WACC) concerning electricity interconnection projects, the authority’s president, Athanasios Dagoumas, has informed a parliamentary committee.

RAE is basing its decision on a cost-benefit analysis study conducted by the authority, while latest European approaches have also been taken into account, the aim being to converge with European WACC standards, the chief executive noted.

The president of RAE stressed that the role of the authority is to control operator expenditures, which, he added, is public money. “We’re cutting expenses – what is not substantiated as an expense will be cut,” he underlined.

The RAE president also protested that market operators are presenting financial data to RAE for approval with great delay, forcing the authority’s staff to work overtime to meet schedules.

RAE has moved swiftly to offer its approval of a series of projects, such as the IGB, the Alexandroupoli FSRU, and a pipeline link with North Macedonia, the chief official noted, adding that the authority’s role is to protect public interest. “We ask you to recognize and support this,” Dagoumas told the parliamentary committee.

 

Freeze on new RES connection terms throughout Greece

An energy ministry draft bill for a second round of RES licensing simplification measures will freeze, throughout Greece, RES grid connection applications accepted as well as connection terms that would otherwise be offered by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO for pending new RES projects until RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved the operator’s plan for a grid capacity increase.

However, even when this grid capacity boost is approved by RAE, very few RES projects will be able to make progress as a minimal number of existing substations currently have minimum capacities of 10 MW, a draft bill prerequisite for distribution of capacity percentages concerning grid connections of small and medium-sized projects.

RAE does not face any time limits for its approval of the grid capacity boost. Officials fear the delay could last months. Until RAE’s approval, DEDDIE/HEDNO will only accept RES project applications and offer connection terms for net-metering systems, virtual net-metering as well as roof-mounted solar panels.

IPTO given permission to revise Cyclades grid link budget

Power grid operator IPTO has received permission to revise its budget concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection following approval of a request submitted to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

IPTO needs to revise the project’s budget as a result of sharp construction-cost increases brought about by higher prices of materials, equipment and energy.

According to Manos Manousakis, IPTO’s chief executive, the infrastructure cost for three remaining island grid interconnections has now reached 399 million euros (345 million euros for the project’s subsea cables and 54 million euros for three substations to be constructed on each of the three islands).

The updated budget’s finalization will enable the completion of the final round of tenders, already announced by IPTO, concerning the fourth phase of the Cyclades islands grid interconnection.

IPTO is expected to inform participants about a new and final deadline extension for binding bids, to be set for June 7, according to sources.

RAE decides on 12-month FSU rental for Revythoussa, 70% capacity boost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has decided on a 12-month rental solution for an FSU installation at the country’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, a move planned to increase the facility’s capacity by 70 percent at an overall cost estimated at 20 million euros, energypress sources have informed.

The FSU, to serve as an addition to three existing storage units at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, is planned for July, the sources added.

RAE’s finalized decision enables gas grid operator DESFA, operating the LNG terminal, to stage a second round of binding bids for reservation of capacities. The procedure is expected to take place imminently, by mid-May. Four companies participated in the non-binding first round.

The FSU to be moored will offer a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 bcm, increasing the terminal’s current capacity of 225,000 m3 to at least 375,000 m3.

 

 

Electricity producers’ excess profit €600m, net sum €200m

Excess profits earned by electricity producers during the ongoing energy crisis’ period between October, 2021 and March, 2022 reached 600 million euros, an 80 percent share of this amount gained by power utility PPC, the dominant player, an inquiry held by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has found.

The findings of this report, forwarded to energy minister Kostas Skrekas last Friday, concern vertically integrated energy groups active in electricity production and supply.

Most of these excess profits have been utilized by energy companies to support their pricing policies in avoidance of even further price rises, the RAE reported has noted.

Sector officials have estimated the sum of excess profits channeled by energy companies for pricing-policy support at 400 million euros, meaning the net amount of excess earnings is 200 million euros.

Energy companies have offered discounts and subdued, as much as possible, retail prices with these excess profits.

The government has announced it will impose a 90 percent tax rate on excess profits, but details of this plan remain unclear.

Funds to be collected by the state will be used to support ongoing subsidies offered to consumers.

Redispatching system to be fully launched in early June

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, plans to offer no further extension to an ongoing trial run distinguishing between balancing energy and redispatching-related energy in the balancing market, and is set to approve a full launch of the system for early June, when the latest dry-run extension expires.

The trial stage began on December 1 and has been extended twice, the latest ending May 31. The trial run is not producing financial results but is limited to flagging quantities activated as a result of load changes.

Officials have noted that prospective changes promised by the redispatching system’s introduction, including in balancing market prices, should not be seen as a foregone conclusion.

 

Four Revythoussa FSU offers made, 6-month lease for start

Four companies have expressed non-binding interest in a procedure seeking FSU offers, both through lease and sale arrangements, for gas grid operator DESFA’s LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

The Revythoussa plan entails adding an FSU with a capacity of between 150,000 and 174,000 m3 to the LNG terminal, which would increase the facility’s current 225,000 m3 capacity, provided by three existing onshore storage units, to at least 375,000 m3, an increase of approximately 70 percent.

Local authorities were satisfied with the level of interest expressed by participants in the first-round procedure, staged to gauge the market for FSU availability. The procedure was staged with guidance from international broker SSY Gas.

A six-month lease solution for an FSU is now considered certain as an initial plan as RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, keeps assessing market data to decide whether an FSU lease or purchase solution is best for Revythoussa over the longer term.

A follow-up tender inviting interested parties to submit binding bids will be staged as soon as RAE has reached its decision.

According to the plan’s schedule, a follow-up tender is planned for the first half of May. Officials aim to have an FSU moored at Revythoussa by the end of July.

 

EVIKEN: Wholesale market price control urgently needed

Regulatory intervention is urgently needed to control prices in the wholesale electricity market, EVIKEN, the Association of Industrial Energy Consumers, has noted in a letter forwarded to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Price-control intervention in Greece’s electricity market is needed as, besides the extraordinary conditions, the market is also pressured by a series of pending revisions, EVIKEN noted.

Balancing market redistribution has yet to be carried out, while the RES sector must still take on full balancing responsibility and, in addition, bilateral contracts need to be established with natural gas-fueled power stations, the association noted.

EVIKEN reiterated that specific strategies being pursued in the supply market are resulting in a full transfer of wholesale market price risk to retail tariffs.

This, combined with the absence of a futures market and the reluctance of producers, including power utility PPC, to offer a minimum percentage of their production portfolio through bilateral contracts – all in the absence of basic competition – results in all energy production being traded through the energy exchange, whose prices are now being formed by producers without any risk entailed, EVIKEN noted.

 

Supreme Court ruling vindicates IPTO in €120m payment dispute

The Supreme Court of Greece has issued a verdict in favor of power grid operator IPTO, sparing the operator of the need to proceed with a delayed payment of a 120 million-euro sum concerning older clearances, made by the operator and sought by independent electricity suppliers, who have not been able to receive this money as power utility PPC, the market’s biggest player and contributor, has yet to deliver its related share to the operator.

IPTO is neither a buyer nor seller of electricity and cannot be embroiled in financial differences involving energy companies, according to the court decision. This legal development promises to trigger new cases pitting energy-company creditors and debtors against each other.

The country’s three independent electricity producers, Elpedison, Mytilineos and Heron, stand to receive the majority of the pending 120 million-euro sum, while smaller non-vertically integrated suppliers are also entitled to smaller shares.

Paradoxically, RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has been pressuring electricity suppliers and issuing fines for amounts they owe to the operators, even though IPTO has not been able to deliver the 120 million-euro amount to suppliers as a result of PPC’s failure to contribute its share.

RES project deadlines trim accumulation, still considerable

Three key deadlines set by authorities to terminate idle RES project plans have expired, reducing the number of accumulated pending projects, still considerable.

Producer certificates for pending projects have, as a result, been reduced to represent a total capacity of approximately 80 GW, still enormous, from 95 GW.

RES investors, for one of the expired deadlines, had until March 15 to cancel producer certificates received for projects – a preliminary licensing step – and be able to have related issuance fees returned. Investors who missed this deadline are no longer entitled to receive this payment return should they not proceed with their projects.

Another deadline expired on March 31, until which RES project investors needed to submit to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, production licenses and spatial details of projects, or have licenses for these projects revoked. Authorities had extended this deadline.

Most recently, a third deadline expired on April 15. It required RES project investors to deliver guarantee payments of 35,000 euros per MWh for older RES producer certificates obtained through applications submitted to a June, 2021 cycle. These certificates have been cancelled for investors who failed to meet the deadline.

 

 

 

Swift moves for Revythoussa capacity boost, FSU by July 30

Gas grid operator DESFA’s plan to boost the capacity of its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens, with the addition of a floating storage unit (FSU), is in full progress, the target date for its mooring being no later than July 30.

DESFA is now preparing to stage a related tender for this plan and, as a first step, is researching the international market to check on the availability of an FSU matching Revythoussa’s requirements, factors including the installation’s period, should a lease solution be chosen, and storage capacity.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is soon expected to decide on whether the FSU should be purchased or leased.

The authority is expected to hold a meeting today with DESFA officials to discuss the plan’s details.

DESFA has indicated it could lease an FSU for a period of between 12 to 18 months and, as part of this plan, would receive the vessel between May 1 and July 30.

The operator is moving fast as the European Commission has requested all EU natural gas storage facilities be filled to 80 percent of capacity by November 1. In addition, the danger of a Russian disruption of gas supply to Europe also requires swift action, as does the higher energy demand anticipated during the summer season.

 

Unpaid receivables rising, prompting vicious cycle

The level of electricity bill unpaid receivables is rising as a growing number of households and businesses struggle to keep up with extremely higher energy costs, a detrimental factor for the cash flows of suppliers, who, in turn, are finding it increasingly difficult to relay regulated fees – included in electricity bills – to the market operators.

A growing number of consumers are lodging complaints to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, over exorbitantly priced electricity bills they are encountering.

The government’s electricity subsidies being offered to consumers as energy-crisis support appear to be insufficient.

The vicious circle of events is challenging the energy market as a whole. In an effort to ease the overall pressure, the government intends to ratify legislation for the implementation of a price ceiling in the wholesale electricity market, but not until the European Commission makes an announcement covering the EU, expected next month.

 

 

RAE seeks to limit or abolish bilateral electricity contract restrictions

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is moving to limit, or even abolish, restrictions imposed on bilateral physical delivery contracts in Greece’s electricity market as a step towards further liberating the market for price de-escalation.

RAE, in a letter forwarded to the country’s energy exchange, has requested a study examining all scenarios that would further facilitate bilateral physical delivery contracts.

The energy exchange intends to have completed its study in three months so that RAE can proceed with related legislative initiatives.

The issue of whether bilateral contracts in Greece’s wholesale electricity market could contribute to a de-escalation of electricity prices in the retail market has preoccupied local authorities for quite some time.

In recent months, wholesale electricity market price increases in Greece have been almost fully passed on to the retail market, contravening the pattern of more mature European markets.

Reduced supplier guarantees to operators being examined

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, looking for ways to ease the cashflow pressure felt by electricity suppliers in the energy crisis, is considering to reduce the level of guarantees they need to forward to the country’s operators – power grid operator IPTO, RES market operator DAPEEP, and distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO – by revising a formula that determines these guarantee amounts.

However, certain independent, non-vertically integrated electricity suppliers remain apprehensive, fearing such a move could ultimately further increase the market strength of bigger rivals and push smaller players further aside.

At this stage, RAE is involved in talks with the market operators in an effort to determine if leeway exists for a reduction of the guarantees provided by suppliers.

RAE’s Aggeliki Mourtzikou, Director of the Wholesale Energy Markets Department, told the recent energypress Power and Gas Forum that the authority is moving carefully so that any intervention does not result in the creation of deficit figures whose side effects in the market could outweigh any short-term benefits concerning supplier cashflows.

The number of consumers seeking installment-based payment arrangements for energy bills has risen sharply, severely impacting the cashflow of suppliers.

South Kavala UGS facing delay, war prompts need for cost-benefit update

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north appears set for a latter date as authorities believe the project’s cost-benefit analysis needs to be updated as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

TAIPED was aiming to stage the tender’s second round late in May, but officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, believe the UGS project’s cost-benefit analysis now needs to be updated.

More specifically, at current gas price levels, it would cost 500 million euros to fill the UGS with gas, once its conversion from a depleted gas field has been completed. The conversion’s cost is also estimated at 500 million euros, meaning a total sum of one billion euros would currently be required to develop and fill the facility.

The project’s existing cost-benefit analysis, based on data prior to the war, is now out for consultation. It has already received two extensions.

It remains unknown if a recent European Commission decision requiring EU member states to maintain gas reserves representing 15 percent of annual consumption will be restricted to the war’s duration or become a permanent obligation.

Also, the project’s reexamination will most probably also need to take into account related domestic developments such as a plan for a gas network capacity increase.

 

Revythoussa FSU 12-month rental or permanent solution

Greek authorities are making comparisons in preparation for a choice between an FSU one-year rental and a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal as part of a plan to boost the country’s gas storage capacity ahead of next winter.

A decision for a capacity boost at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, with the addition of a fourth unit, has already been reached, highly ranked energy ministry officials have informed. A competitive procedure will be staged for the contract.

The option of renting an FSU for the Revythoussa LNG terminal, a facility operated by DESFA, the gas grid operator, would take approximately two months to complete, sources said.

This solution would make operations at the Revythoussa LNG terminal more flexible as it would enable unloading of two LNG orders simultaneously, instead of just one, as is the case at present.

A disruption of Russian gas supply to the EU would force all member states to try and secure additional LNG shipments.

The second alternative, entailing the installation of a permanent floating storage unit at the Revythoussa LNG terminal, would require more time to complete without offering any additional advantages, compared to the FSU rental, energy ministry officials noted.

Officials at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, are comparing market data such as domestic gas demand projections, and also considering Revythoussa’s prospects for a bigger role as a natural gas gateway for neighboring countries. Bulgaria and Romania are already using the Revythoussa terminal for LNG imports.

DESFA calls for doubled gas network capacity, PPPs

The country’s changing energy policy, especially following an EU decision aiming to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas, will require far greater gas transmission capabilities, inevitably prompting the need for a major network capacity boost, double the current capacity, with project participation from private-sector investors through public-private partnerships, DESFA, the gas grid operator, has informed RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

The EU’s energy policy, steering Europe towards energy-source diversification, promises to establish Greece as a southeastern transit country handling far bigger quantities than at present.

Speaking at the recent energypress Power & Gas Fourum, Michalis Thomadakis, DESFA’s Director of Strategy and Development Division, noted: “Certain projects need to be developed so that we can fully utilize the new role the Greek gas transmission system is being called upon to adopt in the wider region. This can only be done with investments. It basically means that the system’s capacity needs to be doubled.”

A disruption of Russian natural gas supply to Europe would create a need for approximately 40 bcm to the Balkan region. Much of this quantity would pass through Greek territory.

New infrastructure promising to greatly increase Greece’s LNG importing capacity is already in the making. Projects include the Alexandroupoli FSRU in the country’s northeast, the Dioryga Gas FSRU planned for the Korinthos region west of Athens, as well as an additional storage tank at Greece’s only existing LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Given these prospects, DESFA is currently looking to develop new pipelines and make network revisions that would facilitate greater quantities to other European markets.

 

 

War, energy crisis hastening plans for new LNG facilities

Russia’s war on Ukraine and the energy crisis are precipitating new natural gas and LNG supply solutions, a development that has increased the importance of related projects planned in Greece.

The EU’s decision to drastically reduce the continent’s reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and terminate the dependence prior to 2030 has increased the importance of supply routes not linked to Moscow’s interests.

This development has increased the feasibility of new infrastructure promising to facilitate natural gas and LNG supply to Europe from alternative sources.

A major US-EU agreement established late last week for supply of an additional 15 bcm, at least, of American LNG to the continent this year, and gradual supply increases further ahead in time, has greatly boosted the prospects for related infrastructure.

The EU intends to follow up on this agreement by also establishing further supply deals with other producers, including Qatar and Egypt, in an effort to increase its LNG imports by a total of 50 bcm.

The EU’s new direction, focused on LNG imports, is seen as essential as the deterioration in relations between Europe and Moscow is expected to last many years.

Related projects in Greece promise to serve as LNG gateways for the country as well as southeast and central Europe, while also establishing Greece as a gas hub with an increased geostrategic role.

The Gastrade consortium recently decided to begin planning a second FSRU for Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece, as an addition to a prospective first unit.

Petroleum group Motor Oil aims to begin development of its “Dioryga Gas” FSRU project, 1.5 km southwest of the company’s refinery in Korinthos, west of Athens, by the end of the year.

Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to further upgrade its LNG terminal on the islet Revythoussa, just off Athens.

Also, the Mediterranean Gas company is planning to develop an FSRU at Volos port, on the mainland’s east coast. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already issued a license for this project.

In addition, another investor, still undisclosed, is set to begin licensing procedures for yet another FSRU in Greece, sources have informed.

 

 

 

Excess energy group profits taxed 90% as crisis measure

The effectiveness of a government measure that will heavily tax excess profits of energy groups as an extraordinary energy-crisis measure remains to be seen and will be determined once groups have announced their financial results for 2021 and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has completed a related inspection.

Given the fact that the RES sector is returning surplus amounts to the Energy Transition Fund, supporting energy crisis measures, the tax measure will be directed at all other technologies, namely lignite, hydropower and natural gas.

The RAE check will compare the earnings of energy companies – in electricity production and supply – between the October-to-March periods of the past two years to determine if excess energy group profits exist, and if so, their size. Any increase in earnings will be taxed 90 percent, according to the extraordinary energy-crisis measure.

 

 

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

Wholesale natural gas spot market launch expected in March

The launch of the wholesale natural gas spot market is now imminent as pending details are being resolved to enable a start expected in March.

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has already taken care of the majority of regulatory matters and made further progress yesterday, announcing three further steps.

The authority approved regulations for natural gas trading on the energy exchange. It also approved a decision concerning risk management procedures and the transaction clearing system, as well as product specifications for the exchange’s gas trading platform.

The trading platform will incorporate a day-ahead market with products covering three-day periods, as well as an intraday platform.

The wholesale gas spot market, promising more competitive prices as well as greater transparency, will come as an addition to bilateral contracts, currently the only trading method available for transactions between importers and suppliers, as well as for major-scale consumers, who independently secure gas supply deals for their needs.

 

RAE to publish lists of suppliers not owing surcharges, sector reacts

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has informed the country’s electricity suppliers it plans to start publishing monthly reports listing suppliers who do not owe electricity-bill surcharge amounts to operators as well as suppliers who owe such amounts but have reached settlement arrangements through installment programs.

Electricity suppliers were informed of this initiative, based on a RAE board decision reached on February 10, in a letter forwarded by the authority.

Through this initiative, RAE aims to pressure electricity suppliers into relaying electricity-bill surcharges to operators on time.

A number of electricity suppliers have fallen behind on these surcharge relays, which highlights the growing pressure faced by the energy market, as a whole, amid the energy crisis. Cashflow has tightened up for suppliers, facing steep wholesale prices, and an increased number of consumers are struggling to meet energy bills.

The situation has officials worried that a new wave of unpaid receivables is in development.

Certain electricity suppliers and market officials have reacted against the RAE measure, noting it will create far bigger problems rather than the ones it seeks to resolve.

 

Electricity market unprotected from consumers with arrears

The country’s electricity market has been left without rules preventing consumers with power bill arrears from switching suppliers as a deliberate tactic to avoid payments.

A regulatory framework that would prevent consumers with arrears from switching suppliers has yet to be ratified, despite many months of deliberation.

Also, suppliers are now unable to request electricity supply interruptions for departing customers with arrears as a result of a revision made earlier this month to a related online platform managed by distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Sector officials have warned the absence of regulations offering suppliers protection against consumers with arrears could lead to a drastic increase in the number of consumers switching from one supplier to another, without repercussions, as a means of avoiding payments.

The energy ministry, which has hesitated to act, has been in possession of a related proposal from RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for several months now, following three rounds of consultation staged by the authority, the most recent round held eight months ago.

Bids for Volterra in March, company continuing RES development

Prospective bidders for the partial or full sale of energy company Volterra, a subsidiary of the AVAX construction group, have been informed to prepare for binding bids within March, according to an update delivered by a major consulting firm commissioned by AVAX for the sale procedure.

This information emerged during a series of meetings staged last week by energy minister Kostas Skrekas and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, with the country’s energy suppliers, behind in their relay of energy-bill surcharge amounts to market operators and municipalities.

In accordance with standard company policy, AVAX always considers every possible option, depending on market conditions and its broader strategy, in order to to best utilize its assets and stakes, the construction group has announced.

Besides its activity in the retail energy market, Volterra is also continuing to develop its investment plan in renewables, a sector in which the company holds a strong RES portfolio with a capacity of 285 MW, comprising ten projects at various stages of maturity.

Electricity market pushed to its limits by widespread debt woes

The country’s electricity market is under severe pressure, being pushed to its financial limits by a chain effect of unfavorable events, namely serious cash-flow issues faced by suppliers, increasing overdue amounts owed by thousands of consumers to suppliers, as well as greater surcharge debt owed by the latter to electricity network operators and municipalities.

This concerning picture was presented in detail yesterday by two market operators, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO and RES market operator DAPEEP, to the board at RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, with energy minister Kostas Skrekas also participating.

Teleconferences were also staged with a number of electricity suppliers for discussions on their delays in relaying surcharges collected through electricity bills to network operators and municipal administrations.

Older surcharge amounts owed by suppliers, up until October, 2020, have led to payback arrangements equally dividing these amounts to letters of guarantees and monthly installments. Most of these commitments are being honored by the suppliers.

However, newer debt issues have emerged through the current energy crisis, beginning last autumn.

According to energypress sources, suppliers owe a total amount of 50 million euros to DAPEEP, a little under 10 million euros to power grid operator IPTO, and over 200 million euros to DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Much of the sum owed to DEDDIE/HEDNO has been covered by letters of guarantee issued by suppliers, following a related revision made by the energy ministry last August.

 

Authority working on retail electricity market monitoring tool, expected April

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is developing a market monitoring tool for the retail electricity market, to enable more effective monitoring of actions by suppliers.

According to sources, this mechanism, to monitor the pricing policies of electricity suppliers, including their discount policies, as well as clause activation, should be ready by April.

RAE officials informed energy minister Kostas Skrekas, at a recent meeting, on the details and progress of the retail market monitoring tool currently being developed.

During the session, the RAE officials also updated the energy minister on the wholesale electricity market’s course, basing their findings on a monitoring tool designed for the wholesale market.

According to sources, no attempts, by producers, at market manipulation or other distortions have been identified to date. The reports presented to the minister covered the month of January.

RAE to propose 50% consumer coverage of Kavala UGS cost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, will propose that consumer surcharges cover 50 percent of the total development cost of a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, sources have informed.

The authority is expected to include the UGS project on the agenda of its board meeting tomorrow and may forward, for consultation, its pricing policy and project funding proposal on Friday.

According to the same sources, the RAE plan includes a 35 percent cost-coverage proposal for the UGS project through EU funds or other support mechanisms – the Kavala project is on the EU’s PCI list, enabling EU funding – and 15 percent coverage by the investor.

The energy ministry appears to agree with RAE’s proposal for consumers to cover 50 percent of the UGS project’s cost through surcharges.

The need for strategic gas reserves has been further highlighted by the current energy crisis.

A pending regulatory framework from RAE is expected to soon be finalized, which would enable privatization fund TAIPED to move ahead with its next steps in the UGS’s tender. The procedure has remained stagnant for months.

The tender’s two final-round qualifiers, GEK TERNA – DESFA (Greek gas grid operator) and Energean, still need to submit binding offers. Should no other obstacles arise, the two qualifiers are likely to have submitted their binding offers within the next three months.

Supplier surcharge relay delays to operators on RAE agenda

Details of accumulated electricity-bill surcharge payment delays by electricity suppliers to market operators will be examined at a RAE (Regulatory Authority for Energy) board meeting tomorrow to involve the participation of three market operators, distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, power grid operator IPTO and RES market operator DAPEEP.

The progress of agreements concerning installment-based payments by electricity suppliers to operators for overdue surcharge amounts totaling 347 million euros up until October, 2020 will be on tomorrow’s agenda.

Suppliers owing this surcharge amount have faced penalties for their delays. The suppliers reached agreements to cover 50 percent of surcharge amounts owed with letters of guarantee and settle the remainder through installments over periods ranging from 8 to 10 months.

Besides updates on older surcharge amounts owed by suppliers, the three operators, at tomorrow’s RAE meeting, will also be asked to provide details on more recent unpaid surcharges, especially amounts concerning 2021.

According to RAE officials, a total of 12 electricity suppliers have fallen behind on surcharge payments since October, 2020, leading to an accumulated amount, since that month, of approximately 250 million euros. This figure remains unconfirmed. Tomorrow’s meeting will offer a clearer picture.

In addition, the failure of suppliers to relay municipal-related surcharges, currently worth a total of between 60 and 70 million euros, to municipalities will also be discussed at tomorrow’s RAE board meeting. In some cases, these delays have stretched for periods of up to 18 months.

This issue was discussed at a meeting yesterday between energy minister Kostas Skrekas and representatives of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE), who called for a revision that would require electricity suppliers to relay surcharge amounts to municipalities within two months.

 

New warning from operator, owed over €120m by suppliers

Distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO is preparing to reiterate a warning to RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, highlighting unpaid receivables owed to the operator by the country’s electricity suppliers, owing, according to sources, more than 120 million euros.

The operator is expected to deliver a letter to the authority within the next few days that will provide details on respective amounts owed by suppliers, identify suppliers who are allegedly breaching payment rules on a regular basis, and also inform on the action the operator is preparing to take.

This latest warning from DEDDIE/HEDNO will be the second to be delivered to RAE this month. The operator had issued a first warning last October, while the issue was still nascent.

According to market regulations, RAE has the power to remove suppliers from the country’s registry of suppliers if they do not meet their financial obligations.

Smaller suppliers could find themselves in trouble as January’s further increase in electricity price levels could prompt a greater number of payment delays by consumers and, by extension, payments of surcharges by suppliers to operators.

At present, suppliers, both vertically integrated and not, are under cash-flow pressure as they anxiously await electricity bill payments by consumers.