Government says power market needs deregulation fast

The Greek energy sector is ripe for new private investment but the country must take urgent steps toward effective deregulation in order to prevent a possible shortage of capacity in a few years’ time, Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis said yesterday. «Though the Greek power grid will not face sufficiency problems before 2007, it is clear that the north-south imbalance, the pressing need for adoption of entrepreneurial decisions today toward the construction of new stations, as well as the almost total absence of energy savings and management of demand constitute parameters that must be seriously considered in our policy planning,» he told a special event organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute and the Hellenic Center for Investment. He said past delays now necessitate rapid progress, which, however, must be achieved based upon consensus with all market factors, and with the participation of foreign capital. «Greek entrepreneurs must be prepared for partnerships with major international groups,» he said. Salagoudis said that in the government’s new strategy, the impending reform of taxation and development incentives will provide the catalyst for the attraction of new investment. The government’s new energy policy is based on the triptych «Clean Energy – Strong Growth – Better Environment for All» and will aim to reduce production costs and boost options for the consumer. Salagoudis said Greece wishes to promote a common regional electric power and natural gas market in Southeastern Europe. «We have already proposed Thessaloniki as the base for such a common market. The reliability of the country’s energy system is a basic prerequisite for the role we wish to play,» he said. Finally, he said the Public Power Corporation (PPC), which still holds a virtual monopoly in the power market, will remain a strong central pole in the deregulated market but will «have to continuously respond to the need for modernization and the application of new technologies for production and toward environmental protection.»