BUSINESS

Market test set to determine the course of PPC plant privatization

CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

TAGS: Energy, Privatizations

The agreement for the sale of lignite-fired power plants owned by Public Power Corporation was sealed last Thursday in Brussels, and the government’s next challenge on the matter is attracting investment interest, otherwise it will have to sell hydroelectric units too – its last line of defense in the controversial issue of reducing PPC’s lignite capacity.

Although Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis is optimistic about the outcome of next month’s market test, there is no sign from investors in that direction. People active in the domestic power market appear certain about the opposite – that the failure of the market test will bring them closer to their goal of entering the hydroelectric market.

Domestic investors start from the view that “lignite as a form of fuel is not productive” in the context of European Union’s policy to reduce carbon emissions, and go as far as saying they will abstain from the December market test, which is intended to gauge investor interest in the plants to be privatized.

Given that this will constitute a major shift in the domestic power market, and until the issues regarding the sale of the plants become clear, investors will keep monitoring developments and no one can rule out a change in their attitude.

Speaking to local investors, one gleans a variety of positions on the matter. The most emphatic attitude comes from Italy’s Edison, which cooperates with Hellenic Petroleum through Elpedison in electricity production: Edison sources say the firm is not interested in investing in lignite units and expect that other investors have a similar attitude.

The mind-set is similar at Hellenic Petroleum, with a source telling Kathimerini that “the EU policies on coal render the acquisition of lignite units a negative investment,” adding that the participation of a European investor in the market test would come as a surprise. Mytilineos sources echo the same view, adding the firm will not take part in the tests.

However, Terna does seem interested in the sale of the PPC lignite plants, while Copelouzos appears to be in two minds about it, having previously shown an interest in cooperation with China’s Shenhua. Sources say the Chinese interest in the Greek lignite plants has diminished.

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