Power utility seeks to roll over fuel costs

Power utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) has called on the government to change the energy sector’s regulatory framework and to allow the company to pass on the costs of increased fuel charges to households. PPC Chairman Takis Athanassopoulos told shareholders its monopoly status gives the company a number of costly obligations. «PPC is a de facto loss-making monopoly,» he said. «PPC today absorbs the costs of external factors without having the ability to pass them on to the consumer,» added Athanassopoulos, referring to rising petrol prices and costs related to pollution emission. Recent increases to PPC tariffs have increased its revenues this year by 8 percent, while costs have jumped 13 percent in comparison with 2007, mainly due to rising oil prices. PPC is one of Greece’s largest companies, valued at -5.6 billion, but has seen profits slide recently due to the rising cost of fuel and energy imports. Despite Greece having formally deregulated its power market, the sector is still dominated by PPC, which is the country’s only provider of electricity to households. Athanassopoulos indicated PPC will be increasing tariffs by 5 percent as of 2009. Hikes in power rates need to be approved by the Development Ministry, which indicated yesterday that it may be in favor of another rate increase. «Without competitive rates in the electrical energy and natural gas markets, we cannot hope for a sustainable future,» said Constantinos Mou-souroulis, Development Ministry general secretary. Shareholders approved a -0.10-per-share dividend for 2007 versus -0.16 for 2006.