Cyprus Mail

Further delay to liberalising electricity market

Lawmakers on Tuesday heard of more delays in the roadmap to liberalising the electricity market, and blamed the agency which was supposed to have delivered a working software system by this month.

Deadlines to liberalise the market have come and gone, first in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, and now 2021.

But MPs learned that the October 2021 timeline will most likely not pan out either.

In parliament, attention again turned to the Transmission System Operator (TSO), the agency tasked with writing up the rules for a liberalised market.

The hold-up is due to the fact the TSO will not be ready to deploy specialised software monitoring supply and demand by the October 2021 deadline.

Today the only producer of electricity in Cyprus is the state-run power company. Independent electricity producers can sell only to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC). But under the liberalised system, producers would be able to sell on the market freely.

Under full liberalisation, an ‘electricity exchange’ of sorts will be established, where suppliers’ bids for quantities of electricity will be updated every half an hour.

The exchange will match supply and demand and fix the price for a contract.

Essentially the EAC will act as a pool, or cache, of electricity.

The electricity exchange platform would be operated by the TSO, which will gain the added capacity of acting as market operator in addition to monitoring security of the overall electricity supply.

The system matching bids requires complex software, which needs to be customised to the particulars of the Cyprus electricity market.

The TSO was supposed to invite tenders for purchasing the software. Tenders were issued in late 2018, then scrapped because the sole bidder’s price was triple the envisaged budget.

The agency next initiated a new tenders process, and from among the bidders it eventually selected General Electric’s Grid Solutions.

TSO director Christos Triaros told MPs the contract with Grid Solutions was signed in April 2020, with a delivery timetable of 18 months – or October 2021.

At the moment, he said, the software is going through a dry run, and the company has said it will likely need an extra four months until the system is fully tested and operational.

Triaros described the project as “probably the most complex one ever done in the Republic.”

For the TSO, he said, the priority is delivering a working system rather than merely meeting a deadline for the sake of meeting a deadline.

The remarks irked independent MP Angelos Votsis, who called Triaros “an absolute autocrat.”

Votsis said it was time for President Nicos Anastasiades to personally intervene in the matter.

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