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EC approves Greek measures to ensure fair access to lignite-fired electricity generation

Staff Writer | April 19, 2018
The European Commission has made legally binding under EU antitrust rules the measures submitted by Greece to ensure fair access to lignite-fired power generation for the competitors of Public Power Corporation (PPC), the incumbent electricity operator.
Europe   For PPC's competitors
The measures are also in line with the EU's climate and energy objectives.

In its decision of March 2008, the Commission found that Greece had infringed competition rules by giving the state-owned electricity incumbent, PPC, privileged access rights to lignite, and called on Greece to propose measures to correct the anti-competitive effects of that infringement.

Due to appeals at both the General Court and European Court of Justice, such corrective measures have not been implemented so far.

Today, the Commission has concluded that the amended final version of the remedies submitted by Greece on 19 January 2018 fully addresses the infringement identified by the Commission in its 2008 Decision, while also taking into account Greece's environmental objectives and current market circumstances.

The remedies aim at removing the privileges created by the special access rights granted to PPC.

In particular, they provide that PPC will divest the lignite-fired units of Meliti (including the licensed unit of Meliti 2) and Megalopoli 3 and 4.

The divestiture will include also the necessary employees and lignite mines.

The market test carried out by the Commission indicated that the proposed remedies are a satisfactory way of addressing the Commission's concerns.

The assets to be divested will allow the purchasers to compete immediately and more effectively in the Greek wholesale electricity market.

In order to increase competition in the Greek market, PPC's competitors need to have access to base-load capacity, which in Greece is still significantly dependent on lignite, in particular during off-peak periods.

More access to lignite-fired electricity generation capacity will help to increase the competitive pressure in the Greek wholesale market and to address the enduring distortions in favour of PPC.

At the same time, by divesting existing lignite-generation capacity and avoiding the further opening and exploitation of new lignite mines, the remedies also take into account Greece's environmental policy and the EU's 2020 objectives to reduce CO2 emissions.

Based on the proposed measures, PPC will launch a tender procedure for the divestment of the above mentioned plants by May 2018.