The government yesterday submitted to Parliament its long-awaited draft bill on the deregulation of the electric power market. «The bill provides a modern framework, attractive for large-scale investments in power production, with obvious benefits for employment and consumers,» Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said. The document harmonizes Greek legislation with the requirements of EU Directive 2003/54 regarding a speeding up of the deregulation process, which had been pending for six years and for which the European Commission referred Greece to the European Court. The new framework establishes freedom of selection of a power supplier for all consumers as of July 1, 2007; opens the way to the construction of new power plants and new grid lines by private producers; and allows for the entry of new suppliers into the market. It also deals with details regarding the separate management of transmission and distribution grids and their legal and operational separation. Under the new bill, the Electric Power Transmission System Operator (DESMHE) will assume distribution management in 2007 from the Public Power Corporation (PPC), currently the main utility, and will be independent of it. DESMHE will guarantee the absorption of power by independent producers totaling 900 MW – which can be extended to 1,300 MW – to meet the country’s energy needs up to 2010. Licenses will also be granted for private power producers on the islands not connected with the national grid, except those with very low consumption.