Th. Skylakakis: Competition worked in the stream, and it wasn't self-evident

Lower electricity rates in February were certainly favored by falling international prices. But without an intervention in green fees, we're unlikely to see them. The Minister of Environment and Energy insists that competition has progressed, but this is not the case Theodore Skylakakis In Liberal.

Assessing the image of the market two months after the implementation of the new system, he talks about the importance of informed and demanding consumers, and we will soon see about the “new generation” tariffs – at least those that are fixed in duration. 6 months as well as mixed materials – as well as about a strong emphasis AdjusterCapable of detecting fraudulent practices.

As for them FarmersCategorizes the benefits of electricity price reduction as the most important, analyzes the interventions of the Ministry, while noting the need for an action on social claims, while mentioning cooperative schemes.

He recalls how much farmers have paid for populism and easy money distributed to cooperatives, but insists that they are a one-way street, which is why the government is giving more importance to healthy cooperation to achieve competitiveness and excellence. Income to farmers.

Interview with Giorgos Fintikakis

We are in the second month of the new electricity pricing system coming into force. What are your results?

The first and foremost conclusion is that consumers are more aware of the electricity market than they have been in years past.

They know who the cheapest provider is each month and the features of their chosen tariffs, and thanks to fierce competition, they can enjoy lower prices than they would have if we hadn't intervened.

We are certainly helped by the downward trajectory of natural gas and pollutant prices and the penetration of RES in the energy mix, where Greece is one of the global protagonists with fast growth. However, all of the above does not negate the revival of competition and the strengthening of achieved transparency. It obviously isn't.

What other conclusions can we draw from the new system?

A second conclusion is that when consumers have the necessary knowledge, they are more powerful against providers than when they do not know how the market works and what real prices are. A strong consumer is an informed consumer. His strength is market knowledge. This makes him stronger and therefore more desirable and more desirable.

In an interview we did in December, you told us that from January it was the consumer who chose the electricity supplier, not the other way around, which meant that till then the marketing practices of the companies were setting the landscape, not them. Same prices. Have we reached our goal or is there still a way to go?

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Today consumers account for 95% of green fees, which providers do not choose. Therefore, being in the “green” position, they know the cheapest and the most expensive provider and have the opportunity to choose the best rates, taking into account some basic elements of the functioning of the market.

This is a big change compared to the previous phase. On the green tariff, after a first month in which some providers appeared to be more expensive, now from February 1, everyone's prices have been reduced.

Has your provider changed tactics to become too expensive as you said?

Yes, but still without being cheap.

Do you think it is only a matter of time before fixed 6 month minimum payments appear in the market? Despite your decision a few days ago, I am asking because the Regulatory Authority is seeking further clarification.

The terrain is very clear. On our part, we sent a letter to the regulatory authority explaining the ministerial decision we took yesterday. We clarify which invoices will have a provision for the early departure of the customer, i.e. payment of a penalty due to his hasty exit from the contract, and which will not.

Based on the new structure, we have the following data: Blue, standard invoices now last at least 6 months and include a customer early departure clause.

The total invoice will come under yellow marked purchase products. They may have a fixed charge for a certain period of time, which can then become variable. The total does not include the controversial exit clause. Also, we do not want to create confusion for consumers regarding the nature of blue charges.

Thus, blues, regardless of duration, have a fixed and outgoing rule, while mixed ones do not.

Do Deceptive Market Practices Still Exist?

Misleading practices fall within the competence of the Regulatory Authority, which must detect, limit and eliminate them. If the regulator doesn't have the tools to do their job and deliver them then it's our responsibility.

Also, if we find weaknesses in the authority's control mechanism, we will assess them and consider how we should intervene. The pricing system is still new. We will monitor the approach of providers and how this will be regulated by the Authority. Precisely because this is a new system, we do our best to inform consumers.

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As far as the farmers are concerned, the measures announced by you as the government do not seem to be satisfactory and the protests are continuing. Will we see new support measures?

The number of professional farmers, in total, is several hundreds of thousands and it is not necessary to identify all the “voices” heard in their corporate, collective representation channels. Our job is to do the right thing every time, based on the contribution we can make to the various sectors of the economy – and the first is the most important.

The measures presented on Friday are more complex. They will be more special in coming days. We think they are important and will help the primary sector a lot in the long run.

However, we must always remember that any assistance in a sector is provided at the expense of resources from taxpayers or other sectors of the economy. So there must be a measure of social demands. The responsibility for deciding these interactions ultimately and inevitably rests with the government. After all, this will be determined when the time comes.

Are you worried that the protests will become a major political problem for the government?

My objective is to design useful and important measures regarding the cost of rural electricity. I strongly believe that these will be of great help to the farming world in the immediate, medium and long term.

The first element of the intervention is related to regularization of huge accumulated debts of organizations of vascular developments (TOEB, GOEB) operating under the responsibility of farmers. Their annual consumption is 43 million euros and their accumulated debts reach 87 million euros. These are age-old evils that we are addressing and everyone should know that the problem is not the same as there are organizations that do not accumulate huge debts.

Regarding electricity prices, we have announced two very important new measures. First, the possibility for farmers belonging to cooperative schemes (cooperatives, producer groups, etc.) to conclude bilateral, long-term contracts with photovoltaic producers, e.g. PPC and thus “lock in” low (at least 30% lower than today), competitive price.

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In particular, we will prioritize and subsidize the construction of photovoltaic parks with batteries that will exclusively provide electricity to the above category of farmers through long-term contracts.

Such a deal would not have the “headache” of expensive electricity for farmers, for example cooperatives, as they would “lock in” a significant amount of energy at a low, predetermined price that would last for a decade. The agricultural world has never had an opportunity like this before.

As for the second scale, individual farmers who can afford it can enter the “photovoltaics in the field” program, with projects up to 50 kW and electricity space “locked” exclusively for them.

Will such measures find a response from the rural world or is their demand in terms of electricity more immediate, i.e. subsidies in hand?

What the government is doing in the rural electricity problem is to provide short-term relief and long-term solution to electricity.

Beyond that, we must not forget that economies internationally have “ups and downs” and that there is no area where a government can guarantee absolute security. In practice, absolute protection in one sector can only be provided at the expense of other sectors of the economy.

Everyone is right in this matter. Both small and medium and energy-intensive industries are asking for help, despite the increase in RES, as long as they are large and above all lignite in this natural gas, even our energy mix will not be ideal.

The difficulty for good power pricing is objective. Unfortunately, this is not the only problem. In my opinion, the greatest difficulty in the Greek, primary sector is the inability to adequately organize cooperative programs and the fragmentation of the clergy. This fragmentation creates an objective problem in terms of its competitiveness, as it cannot use modern practices like other agricultural economies.

Let me remind you of what we all lived through when populism destroyed most of the agricultural cooperatives in Greece. When co-ops were undermined in Greece, with easy money circulating uncontrollably and the country filling investment “trunks,” the co-ops were destroyed.

Peasants paid dearly for populism and this failure, and many of them still have strong (seemingly practical) reservations about cooperative schemes, which, however, are a one-way street. That's why the government is giving more importance to healthy cooperation for farmers to achieve competitiveness and higher income.

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