Power capacity next summer turns into a very hot issue

Greece’s power sufficiency yesterday appeared to become a pre-electoral issue, also involving labor union and business interests. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputies submitted a question in Parliament charging the government with incompetence after Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos issued two decisions last week providing for the addition of 240-280 megawatts to the country’s capacity to meet possible extra requirements during the Olympic Games next August. Only until recently, they argued, the government said there would be no sufficiency problem, despite being warned by that the country faced the prospect of a 600 MW power deficit by next summer. They also referred to «opaque procedures.» The labor union of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), which produces more than 95 percent of the country’s power, followed by announcing a 24-hour strike on November 18, claiming there was no evidence of a likelihood of shortages next year and that the minister’s decisions were «legally improper» and «preparing the ground for the entry of private power producers from the back door.» They charged that the Regulatory Authority for Energy was trying to assign the construction of one of the two plants in question, on the island of Rhodes and with a capacity of 120-160 MW, to the second lowest bidder – a private firm – on the grounds that PPC’s bid was undervalued. The government has directly licensed PPC to build the second, 120 MW-capacity plant, near Lavrion, south of Athens.