ECONOMY

Power station progress will help meet demand

Construction plans for two new power plants in central and southern Greece are moving ahead as the government scrambles to meet an expected rise in electricity demand in coming years by adding energy production units. Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, who yesterday visited the offices of power grid operator DESMIE, said procedures concerning the licensing of Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) new 417-megawatt (MW) plant in Aliveri, on the island of Evia, have been completed, adding that «in a very short period of time» the foundations of the new unit will be laid. PPC’s board will also be making a decision in the coming days on the natural gas-fired power plant located in the town of Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, added the minister. Government-controlled PPC has been slow in teaming up with investors to build energy production units and the Development Ministry’s recent decision to ban the construction of any new anthracite-powered plants has further dampened its plans. PPC workers, who have a large say in the utility’s operations, are also considered to be an obstacle to the company teaming up with private investors, fearing that a shrinking market share for PPC would result in job losses. All of this has raised concerns that the power grid will not be able to handle the higher demand for power in coming years, particularly during the sweltering summer months when air conditioners are switched on in urban areas. Hatzidakis said demand had been smoothly met this year due to the lack of the searing temperatures seen in recent summers as he «encouraged PPC and private investors to [increase investments] in the field of electricity production.» Demand for power consumption so far this summer has peaked at 9,870 MW versus 10,393 MW in 2008 and 10,610 MW in 2007. Decreased electricity usage by PPC’s industrial customers has contributed to lower demand as the crisis puts the brakes on production levels. Separately, PPC said late on Monday that it is not planning to raise electricity tariffs, denying local press reports that it intended to soon hike tariffs.