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EAC union gears up for possible strike action

EAC’s participation in electricity production through renewables is one of the issues

The electricity authority’s technical union (Sepaik) is holding a series of island wide meetings this week, gearing up for possible strike action if long standing demands are not met, head of the union Sotos Savva said on Wednesday.

“We have held informational gatherings with staff since Monday [and] are voting to authorise union leaders to manage various outstanding issues and determine if strike actions are needed,” Savvas informed state broadcaster CyBC.

The meetings are garnering overwhelming support from EAC staff, he added.

Among the union’s known demands are issues which have been left unresolved since January last year, concerning upgrades to Dhekelia installations, obstacles to the EAC’s participation in electricity production through renewables (RES) as well as storage, Savvas said.

Savvas went on to accuse the electricity regulatory authority (Cera) of disingenuous support of energy market competitiveness, since the EAC has effectively been prohibited from purchasing cheap energy produced by private photovoltaic (PV) park companies, which have been raking in super profits without being taxed.

“Cera’s actions have resulted in ‘competition’ in quotes,” Savvas charged, adding there can be no true competition since the EAC is deliberately cut-off from adding RES energy to its mix and has only recently been permitted to build its own PV parks.

“During this [so-called] transitional period, 250MW of energy come from PV parks [which is close to half] the island wide demand on certain days,” Savvas said, highlighting that this is all provided by private companies.

“Cera has effectively excluded the EAC from [fair] competition and thereby being in a position to reduce energy cost for consumers,” while private companies are profiteering from the de facto situation, Savvas said.

He moreover accused private PV park companies from lobbying the state and influencing its decisions vis-à-vis the semi-state authority.

“We are not against opening up the market to full competition but [private interests] are seeking to interfere in state intentions which could benefit consumers, and the EAC, such as upgrades to Dhekelia. They have become increasingly bold, even going to far as to build infrastructure without a proper permit on EAC land adjacent to Vasiliko,” Savvas claimed.

Chairman of the association of renewable energy enterprises (Seapek) Fanos Karantonis for his part, took the stance that the matter was uncomplicated.

“If we want to get away from a monopoly market, we need to constrain the activities of the EAC. If we want to remain a monopoly market, we can ask investors not to invest towards benefitting consumers with cheaper electricity,” he said.

Meanwhile on Monday the much-touted opening up of the electricity market was pushed back to the summer of 2025.

Speaking at a finance committee meeting to review the Transmission System Operator (TSO) budget for 2024, Stavros Stavrinos, TSO’s executive director, said procedures were underway for hiring 37 staff who help run the liberalised electricity market.

The 37 should be hired by September, after which it will take three to four months to train them.

 

 

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