PPC head Manolis Panagiotakis (left) explains to a parliamentary committee the dire situation the utility is in over the collection of debts from unpaid bills, as Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis looks on.
Collecting debts resulting from unpaid electricity bills is proving particularly difficult for Public Power Corporation, even after hiring a special consultant.
The plan that Qualco has submitted to PPC management about the collections it can make this year says, according to sources, that the likely receipts will only range between 50 and 100 million euros, while total unpaid bills add up to 3 billion euros.
The issue of the overdue power payments is constantly growing, according to a presentation by PPC head Manolis Panagiotakis to a parliamentary committee on Friday. The utility’s chairman said that while debts dropped by 150 million euros from December 2017 to February 2018, the unpaid bills of so-called departing clients have increased; he explained that there is a new phenomenon of “some people who stop being PPC customers and go to other providers while they have entered a debt repayment plan and fail to adhere to it, which has seen the debts of departing clients rise to about 200 million euros.”
He also stressed there has been an increase in the number of consumers who try to avoid paying their dues to PPC and get around obstacles imposed by legislation concerning switching suppliers. Their methods include changing their tax registration number (AFM) and choosing another power provider, making it very difficult to identity them. PPC has requested the assistance of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) regarding this problem.
It should be noted that other power providers have observed no such phenomena among their clients, as alternative electricity retailers strictly follow the market’s operation rules that provide for cutting the supply of customers who fail to pay after a certain period – a practice that PPC did not implement for almost two years for debts up to 1,000 euros, on political orders. Consequently customers of the Greek power giant are now finding it particularly difficult to cover their accumulated debts even if they want to.
Notably, unpaid debts to PPC have come under the supervision of the country’s creditors since the third bailout review, and they have emphatically demanded that the power supply of clients with many overdue bills be cut off.