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Our View: Yet another delay to opening up electricity market

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis

ENERGY minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis gave a new date for the opening up of the electricity market at a meeting of the House energy committee on Tuesday. Lakkotrypis said the best-case scenario was that the system for buying power from independent producers would come online no earlier than October 2021 and be fully operational by the end of that year.

It is extremely difficult to take the minister’s assertion seriously because the government has lost all credibility on this matter. We have been hearing of new deadlines for the liberalisation of the electricity market to end the EAC monopoly with such regularity they have become a running joke. Originally, the market was to have been liberalised in 2016, then in July 2019, then the beginning of 2020 and now the end of 2021. Two-and-a-half years may be some time away, but there is no reason to believe the new deadline will be met.

Diko deputy, Angelos Votsis, described the constantly changing deadlines as “a mockery that needs to stop”, while Lakkotrypis was more diplomatic, recognising the existence of problems that cause the delays at the Transmission System Operator (TSO) that is supposedly to be administering the project of purchasing power from independent producers. The head of the energy regulator (Cera), Andreas Poullikkas, did not mince his words, blaming the manager of the TSO.

“At the moment we have no confidence in the manager that the schedule he gives us will be respected,” said Poullikkas. There could not have been a more emphatic expression of no confidence in the TSO manager than this, but given his consistent failure to meet past deadlines it is justified. In fact, several deputies, speaking after the meeting said the manager should be sacked given his failure to deliver the results expected of him.

The problem is that failure to perform your duties adequately is not a sackable offence in the public sector, so the government may have great difficulty removing the TSO manager despite his failure to perform his duties competently. This included a botched tenders’ procedure in which the cost was estimated at €5 million by the TSO and the only offer submitted was €15 million. Last week a new tenders’ procedure was announced for the software needed for the TSO. Whether contracts will be signed by the December 2019 deadline so that the market is opened up at the end of 2021 is another matter.

The mockery Votsis spoke of is set to run and run because the government appointed as head of the TSO someone that was unsuitable for the job and now cannot have him removed.

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