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Our View: Too much noise over delay in freeing up electricity

THE chairman of the House energy committee, Angelos Votsis, reportedly was livid when he heard at a Tuesday meeting that it would take another three years before the electricity production market would be opened to competition. The Diko deputy could not conceal his outrage, said press reports, reminding the meeting that officials, in the past, said the energy market would have been opened up to competition by June 2016.

The director of the Transmission System Operator said the market would open up in 2019, as long as everything that had to be done went smoothly. Things never go smoothly or according to plan in the public sector, so even 2019 might be an over-optimistic forecast. The administrator still has to draft regulations for the purchase of electricity plus have software designed, for which specs have to be prepared and tenders procedures carried out. According to the head of the TSO, more staff was required to carry out all this preparatory work.

Who had told the House energy committee that the electricity market would have been opened up by June 2016 while zero preparatory work was being done? Legislation that would make the TSO an independent entity has not even been prepared yet and the body operates as a branch of the EAC with workers employed by the state-owned electricity authority. The Energy Regulator, Raek, wants the TSO to be completely independent and have nothing to do with the EAC, but the relevant legislation is only just being prepared. This is because the EAC unions are opposed to the independence of the TSO as they see it as a step towards privatisation.

Against this background, it is extremely difficult to comprehend Votsis’ anger unless it was just a bit of theatre. Votsis and his party have been fanatical campaigners against the privatisation of the EAC – the idea has been abandoned by the government for now – fully siding with the trade unions. And the unions do not want the electricity market to be opened to competition because this would lead to pressure for the privatisation of EAC. This is why the TSO, which is staffed by EAC personnel, has done absolutely nothing about opening up the market and its head is talking about another three years before it happens.

It will take many more years than three before the electricity market is opened up to independent producers because the EAC unions want to maintain the authority’s monopoly and stave off privatisation for as long as possible. So, Votsis should not get angry about the filibustering because his party fully supports it.

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