Greece, EU strike ‘preliminary deal’ on coal-fired plants sale, says minister

Greece, EU strike ‘preliminary deal’ on coal-fired plants sale, says minister

Greece and the European Union have reached a “preliminary deal” on the coal-fired plants the country will sell to comply with an EU court ruling, Greek Energy Minister George Stathakis said on Monday.

Responding to the market regulator’s request to comment on media reports, dominant power utility Public Power Corp (PPC) said Greece and EU competition authorities had converging views on the plants to be divested but there was no final agreement yet.

Under its latest international bailout signed in 2015, Greece agreed that PPC, which is 51 percent owned by the state, would sell plants equal to about 40 percent of its coal-fired capacity by June next year after a European court ruled that the utility had abused its dominant position in the coal market.

Athens and the EU Commission have been in talks since July, trying to define which plants will be put up for sale.

Stathakis told a Greek radio station there was a preliminary deal with the EU on the plants that will be put up for sale which could be finalized “this week.”

PPC said the units that were expected to be sold were Meliti I and the yet-to-be-built Meliti II in northern Greece along with another two units in the southern Greek town of Megalopolis.

“With the EU court’s judgment in 2016 definitively rejecting PPC’s appeal, Greece must now implement the Commission decisions of 2008 and 2009, in light of present circumstances,” a European Commission spokesman said.

“This process is currently ongoing. We remain in contact with the Greek authorities on this issue,” he said.

Hard hit by overdue bills left unpaid by austerity-hit Greeks in recent years, PPC is keen to divest plants that will not significantly reduce its generating capacity. The EU wants to ensure that the plants will attract investors’ interest.

The sale is part of requirements in a bailout review that Athens wants to conclude with its eurozone lenders and the International Monetary Fund soon to qualify for fresh loans.

Mission chiefs representing the official lenders are expected in Athens this week to resume review talks, which Athens hopes to wrap up by early January. [Reuters] 

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