PPC to demand tariff hikes

Power utility PPC announced yesterday the strong electricity demand that fueled its 2003 profits growth should continue in 2004, adding that it wanted tariff rises, likely this summer, at least to match inflation. Greece’s dominant power company turned in an 11.8 percent rise in core earnings on Wednesday and a 38.4 percent gain in net profit as electricity consumption increased 6 percent, but both figures fell short of expectations. CFO Grigoris Anastassiadis said in a conference call yesterday that PPC saw a continuation of recent strong electricity demand, seen bumping along to Greece’s booming GDP growth rate. Tariff levels, which the company claims are extremely low compared to European averages, should at least match inflation this year, PPC management said. Authorities had awarded PPC a tariff increase above inflation for three years, but in July 2003 only a sub-inflationary hike was allowed. «We don’t see a reason not to have a tariff increase at least at inflation level this July,» chief executive Stergios Nezis said. He said costs had gone up in the last quarter of 2003 on projects to improve generating capacity and system reliability ahead of the increased loads expected during the Olympic Games in Athens in August. «We have done extraordinary maintenance in our generating units ahead of the Olympics… and, on top of that, we have improved a lot the capacity and reliability of our transmission and distribution grids,» he said. Maintenance projects are now all but finished, he added. (Reuters)