Electricity market forced into opening up

Greece is to gradually raise electricity prices and allow investors access to its coal deposits, as part of measures to open up a power market dominated by state-controlled utility Public Power Corporation (PPC). Greece said that, by the end of the year, it would adopt «a mechanism to ensure that the energy component of regulated tariffs reflects, gradually – and at the latest by June 2013 – wholesale market prices,» in a report submitted yesterday to the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB). Power-market liberalization is one of several conditions the EU and IMF imposed on cash-strapped Greece to continue funding a three-year, 110-billion-euro ($141 billion) bailout package granted in May. Greece is an energy liberalization laggard: PPC still controls 97 percent of the retail market for electricity. Yesterday’s move will increase Greek electricity prices, currently among the lowest in the EU because they are regulated by the state and do not fully include PPC’s carbon-emission costs. Greece also pledged to offer PPC’s rivals gradual access to its lignite deposits and plants.