Industry still fears power cuts during Olympic Games

The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) yesterday expressed renewed concern that greater power requirements during the Olympic Games in August next year will mean cuts for industry. Speaking at the «Energy & Development» conference in Athens yesterday, Phaidon Deliyiannis, SEV’s coordinator of industrial infrastructure and development, said the Development Ministry’s recent decision to build by June an additional 120-160-megawatt station – on the recommendation of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) – to ensure reserve power availability, did not dispel the industry’s concern about the possibility of cuts. He noted that increased power requirements were met precisely through such cuts over the last two summers. According to official data from the Public Power Corporation, peak demand in Greece occurs in July rather than in August, the main holiday month. It is also argued that the Games are not expected to add considerably to power requirements. Nevertheless, PPC data also show that demand for power climbs higher each year: It increased 6.2 percent in the January-September 2003 period, year-on-year, while the July peak this year was 1.2 percent higher than last year. Power cuts have been one of the alternatives proposed by RAE to the Development Ministry for meeting the projected higher requirements in 2004 and 2005. RAE also recommended planning for maintenance work before the summer. The idea of a campaign for energy savings seems to have been abandoned due to the lack of time and because it was feared it would create anxiety among the public. Speaking at the conference, RAE Chairman Pantelis Kapros said the issue of adequate power supplies came to the fore after recent unprecedented blackouts in the USA, Italy and Scandinavia proved that transnational or trans-state grids had not accumulated enough investment to meet the new requirements of the integration of previously fragmented markets. «It was precisely for these reasons that the European Union pursued the extensive reform and integration of the energy market and set up the European Council of Energy Regulators as the official regulatory authority in the EU,» he noted. Kapros insisted that Greece could not escape the reform of its power market, despite the present climate of stagnation due to «the prevalence of inertia and vested interests.» Deliyiannis also said natural gas prices were not attractive for industry or power production, being about 30 percent higher than in the rest of the eurozone. Main opposition New Democracy party deputy Giorgos Saliagoudis accused the government of following «a contradictory energy policy which has brought market liberalization to a stalemate.» He said his party was in favor of full liberalization that would limit the government to the role of regulator. «The State cannot be market regulator and protector of state monopolies at the same time,» he said. Saliagoudis also said his party, if elected, would not endorse the agreement the government has prepared for the sale of a 35 percent stake in the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) to Spain’s Gas Natural company, arguing that DEPA’s infrastructure should remain in the public sector while its commercial distribution should go into private hands.