Technical team’s visit also focused on pending energy matters

Technical teams representing the country’s creditors, currently in Athens to inspect the progress of reform promises linked to a financial assistance program extended to Greece, are also focusing on energy-sector matters.

Refering to the exact same catalogue of pending Greek commitments that had been used prior to the January 25 elections that brought the leftist Syriza-led coalition to power, the technocrats, on this latest visit, are taking notes on the current standing of obligations concerning the Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ministry.

According to sources, the ministry is providing information relevant to the inspection but not engaging in any form of dialogue on the recently elected government’s intended policies.

When asked, for example, to comment on how the government planned to act on the country’s lignite sources – considering a European Court verdict that ruled against PPC, the Public Power Corporation, for maintaining a monopoly – ministry officials went no further than to inform the visiting technocrats that various options are currently being examined. A final decision had not been reached, they said.

However, the prospect of making accessible unutilized lignite deposits to private-sector companies stands a very slim chance, sources said.

Responding to questioning on a recent initiative taken by the ministry that blocked an Emission Reduction Tariff (ETMEAR) surcharge hike that had been planned by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, ministry officials told the technocrats that all action taken lies within the framework of EU law.

Ministry officials are also being subjected to numerous other questions concerning a range of pending energy-sector issues, sources informed. One of these is an unfulfilled plan for NOME-type auctions. RAE had prepared a plan a while ago but creditor representatives had objected to various details and sought revisions.

The disagreement was caused by contrasting perceptions on the role of NOME-type auctions in the market. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition viewed auctions for lignite and hydropower generated by PPC, the power utility, as a tool for intensifying competition in the retail electricity market. Greece’s previous administration, which was behind the NOME-type auction plan, perceived the auctions as a tool that would ensure lower-priced electricity for the industrial sector.