HELPE’s power plant almost complete but facing unclear future

Germany’s RWE Energy group will run Greece’s first independent electric power-producing plant on behalf of Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) in Thessaloniki, a senior official told Kathimerini yesterday. According to Andreas Tzouros, managing director of HELPE subsidiary Thessaloniki Energy, which owns the nearly completed plant, RWE’s Npower won an international tender to provide the necessary know-how which HELPE lacks. A 32-member team will run the natural gas-fired plant in line with contract specifications, expected to start at around the end of the year. However, Tzouros appeared rather guarded about the prospects of the venture. «We are an experiment of the deregulated market,» he said, noting that the future of the plant will depend on whether the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) creates a favorable environment for investment in power production. The rising price of oil has had an upward effect on the price of natural gas, raising the cost of power to around 30-35 euros per megawatt. Although the Development Ministry’s recently announced codes for the operation of deregulated power production and supply market – introducing a single tariff – do not, according to Tzouros, favor the new HELPE plant, he says that the contract with RWE Npower contains especially favorable terms, including a bonus-malus provision for performance above or below certain norms.