ECONOMY

Authorities scramble to avert summer electricity shortages

The planned cut in Bulgaria’s electricity exports and the decline in water reserves, which will adversely effect hydroelectric power plants, threaten to destabilize Greece’s electricity grid this summer and next. The Ministry of Development is looking for solutions, aware of the fact that no new power plants will become operative before the end of 2008. According to ministry sources, the best that can be done this summer is to provide counterincentives to large consumers of electricity in order to keep peak consumption within limits. Additionally, farmers will be asked not to irrigate their farms around midday. The only other solution is to lease the Negotino power plant in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the summer months, but that is far from any certainty. In order to avoid a similar emergency during the summer of 2008, the Electricity Distribution Authority will call, within the next three months, for an additional 350-400 megawatts to be provided from wind-power installations. Numerous bids Several foreign groups, allied with domestic ones, are expected to bid for a plant to be built in southern Greece to redress the country’s electricity imbalance, whereby most power plants are in the north, but the bulk of consumption takes place in the south. Bids for a 390-megawatt facility must be submitted by February 22. According to sources, the likely bidders are the following: – Spain’s Iberdrola, in an alliance with refiner Motor Oil, which already has secured a permit to build a 400-MW combined-cycle power plant near Corinth. Iberdrola and Motor Oil are reportedly in talks over another project, a 400-MW power plant in Viotia, north of Athens. – Construction group Hellenic Technodomiki, metals group Viohalco and French power company Electricite de France (EdF). The three could build a 400-MW power plant at Viohalco’s Viotia works. – Greece’s Copelouzos group also has a permit for a 400-MW combined-cycle plant in Viotia and will bid along with Italy’s Enel. – Construction company Terna is expected to bid either on its own or with Austria’s Verbund. – Halyvourgiki steelworks is also considered a likely bidder, although it has not yet acquired a permit to build a power plant.