PPC rate rise opens up market

BRUSSELS – The liberalization of the Greek energy market is a top priority for the Development Ministry, Minister Christos Folias told the European Union Council of Energy Ministers yesterday, adding that it is in this context that the recent round of electricity rate rises was approved. Folias explained that these rises «may leave some negative impressions in the short term,» but in the future they will prove beneficial, as they are the key to the entry of new production and distribution companies into the market, which will lead to stiffer competition and ultimately lead to reduced rates. «Wherever there have been conditions of healthy competition and market transparency, prices have tumbled and services have improved. This is what the country needs,» said Folias, adding that «no one can expect major investments unless the energy market is opened up.» On a European level, where the liberalization of the energy market is already a reality, interest has turned to the European Commission’s demand for the separation of energy production from distribution. This has met with the strong opposition of many member countries, including Greece, headed by France. The Commission proposes either a complete separation with a change in ownership, or an operational one, practically with the renting out of a network to another company. After months of arguing, the Portuguese presidency yesterday asked the countries that are against the separation to submit their own alternative proposal, which is expected to take place in early 2008. The Greek minister stated after the Council meeting that as far as Greece is concerned, the subject of a possible splitting of the Public Power Corporation is not a priority at the moment: «The first thing we have to do, and we are starting it, is the liberalization of the energy market. As soon as this is completed, we will be in a better position to deal with the situation.»