ECONOMY

Industrialists criticize slow pace of energy deregulation

Seven months after the partial deregulation of the electricity market, the State has yet to define a clear policy and framework for private would-be power producers hoping to break into the sector. Industrialists attending a seminar on Greece: investments, incentives and disincentives in the deregulated energy market yesterday, held by the Hellenic American Union, said there were a number of major barriers holding up power generation projects, ranging from the lack of a cost tariff to endless red tape and groundless environmental concerns. While the private sector responded favorably to the State’s invitation to venture into the energy market, disillusionment has not been slow to set in as a result of the various stumbling blocks holding up projects, Lefteris Antonakopoulos, head of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), said. Proposals are not being translated into actual works because of obstructive factors which must be dealt with immediately, he said, one of them being the high costs of natural gas, the size of reserves and its availability. One way of getting around this barrier is to allow industrial users to turn to alternative fuels such as diesel or renewable sources of energy. However, the lack of a viable transport grid for this kind of energy and local opposition have created doubts as to whether the projects will be implemented at all. Government red tape has also proved to be a major hindrance. The SEV head also called for major power producers to be allowed to export their energy, noting that this would ensure their ability to function and viability. Diversified group Mytilineos, which has been granted a license to set up a power generation plant in Volos, was similarly critical of the slow progress in opening up the electricity market. There should be a transparent pricing policy, said Ioannis Desypris, managing director of Mytilineos’s energy production and commerce subsidiary. He also called on the energy regulatory and administrative authorities to come up with an investment program for lines and interconnection grids. Desypris proposed that the State call all participating parties to come up with suggestions, after which it should formulate a stand by the end of the year. Apostolos Allamanis, head of Aluminium de Grece, said that state support for new entrants to the energy market is vital to help them compete with the incumbent energy utility. For the sector to continue attracting private investment, the state will need to resolve the issue of high gas tariffs and also ensure a steady supply to cover future needs, he said. A distribution network also needs to be constructed which will guarantee a steady supply. It is just as important that the State specifies a deadline for opening up the market, Allamanis said.