Power deregulation only on paper

The deregulation of Greece’s electric power market seems likely to remain on paper for two more years. The right of household consumers to choose their supplier as of July 1, announced by the European Commission last month, will also remain theoretical for Greece. Even if issues of a technical nature, which will start being tackled now, had been solved in time, the change of supplier would still have been a dead letter, as the construction and operation of power stations other than those of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) would take at least two years. The operation of such independent stations, as of Hellenic Petroleum’s in Thessaloniki, with a capacity of 400 megawatts, does not suffice to allow mobility among consumers. Another privately operated unit, Terna construction company’s 160 MW plant, operates on the basis of a special agreement with the Power Transmission System Operator (DESMHE) designed to ensure the sufficiency and stability of the grid in Attica at peak hours. Undoubtedly private concerns, both Greek and foreign, have expressed keen interest in power production, with proposed plans totaling 4,500 MW in capacity. Of this, 1,000 MW has been proposed by Italy’s Edison, of which 400 MW will be a combined heat and power plant in a joint venture with construction company Hellenic Technodomiki and metallurgy group Viohalco at Thisvi in Viotia. The remaining 600 MW will be a coal-fired plant at Astakos, western Greece. Edison has said it aims to build a total of 2,000 MW in capacity in Greece. Another Italian firm, ENEL, which has a 75 percent interest in ENELCO, a consortium with the participation of the Kopelouzos group, plans to construct capacity of 400 MW also in Viotia, if its wins a DESMHE tender for a plant that will have a guaranteed income for 12 years. The evaluation of the bids has been frozen by the EU, following complaints about the terms of the tender. Terna’s Heron Thermoelectric has submitted a separate plan for a coal-fired 420 MW plant at Mantoudi in Evia. Spain’s Endesa is also seeking to establish a strong position in the Greek energy market, and has entered into a strategic alliance with the Mytilineos group, acquiring a majority stake in the latter’s energy portfolio. It is pursuing plans for two power stations also in Viotia. Meanwhile, the Mytilineos group is shortly expected to launch a 330 MW plant for the power requirements of its Aluminium of Greece concern. Separately, plans of Korinthos Power, a subsidiary of Spain’s Iberdrola and Greece’s Motor Oil refinery, for a 400 MW combined cycle plant at Aghioi Theodoroi, and of Halyvourgiki steel mill for a 880 MW station in Elefsina are facing uncertainty. Korinthos Power has bid in the tender for the 400 MW plant, for which Terna and ENEL are considered favorites, but its shareholders have not decided whether to proceed with construction, irrespective of the tender outcome. Halyvourgiki’s plan will depend on the strength of the opposition of Elefsina residents with respect to the environmental impact. Whether consumers will eventually be able to choose their power supplier will depend on the implementation of this array of investment plans. PPC PPC has its own separate investment plans for power production, including the replacement of existing capacity of 1,600 MW and the construction of 800 MW of new capacity. The timetable for the replacement of old units will be announced in October, together with the corporation’s new business plan currently being drafted. The replacement of the Aliveri plant on Evia, which was planned as early as December 2004, is expected to be hit by further delays, as the European Commission will be investigating a complaint about the terms of the construction tender.

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