New legislation to be tabled in October will free Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC) from the obligations and restrictions that apply to state utilities so that the state-controlled electricity firm can operate as a listed company and expose itself to market competition, Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told Kathimerini’s Sunday edition.
Hatzidakis was speaking hours after PPC’s board approved a 500-million-euro rescue plan to tackle a dramatic cash shortfall at the company (PPC is burdened with around 2.5 billion euros of unpaid bills) that includes a hike in electricity rates and a reduction in discounts offered to customers who pay promptly.
He said plans to overhaul the ailing utility include the involvement, in the medium term, of private shareholders and cooperation with third parties as the company expands into renewables.
“Apart from keeping PPC on its feet, we want to render [the company] attractive to potential investors,” Hatzidakis said.
Referring to PPC’s switch from coal to renewables he said that the implementation of the reform program and the part-privatization of distribution agency DEDDIE would secure enough capital to allow the company “to make a dynamic entry into renewables, either on its own or in cooperation with other energy players.”
Hatzidakis said that PCC’s divestment from lignite would start with the “gradual closing” of the Amyntaio I and II power plants in northwestern Greece and Megalopolis in the country’s south, which have a combined installed capacity of 900 MW, “in consultation with the local communities.” The process must commence by the end of the first half of 2020.
Furthermore, he said that the October bill will abolish the so-called NOME auctioning system (designed to provide third parties with access to PPC’s low-cost lignite and hydroelectric sources) agreed between the European Commission and the previous SYRIZA administration.
He said the government will seek to renegotiate the agreement, putting forward a new plan that “will liberalize and modernize the energy market,” as well as to implement a voluntary redundancy scheme.