Greece to pass a new fee for solar PV producers; legislate new metering

A new Greek RES bill passed successfully through the Greek Parliament’ commerce committee on Thursday, its chief aim to reduce the price of electricity for energy-intensive industries by up to 18%. This will be achieved through electricity network load management based on demand response measures introduced in the country for the first time.

According to these measures, energy-intensive industries will be offered the opportunity to sign contracts with the Greek Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) agreeing to reduce, or even totally cut, their electricity consumption during peak times in exchange for a discount in their electricity bills, which could reach up to 18% of their initial energy costs.

This new measure will alleviate strain on the electricity system during peak times, adding to its security. It will also offer funds to the domestic industries, possibly increasing the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Sceptics have asked who will pay for it.

The brief answer to that question is: power producers. All power producers (whether fossil fuels or renewables) will pay a fee based on their income and a calculation that takes into account the effect of each power generator to the security of the electricity supply. The exact amount to be paid by each category producer will be decided later by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA).

Renewable power associations have been up in arms about this new ruling. They argue that conventional power producers will pass this new expense on to the consumers by simply increasing the price at which they sell their power in the wholesale electricity market. On the contrary, RES producers, they claim, have no means to do so since their income is solely based on fixed FITs and do not participate in the spot market. Thus, RES associations argue PV and wind power producers will have to pay the new fee exclusively from their own budget.

Only solar PV parks installed in the islands not interconnected to the mainland’s electricity network are exempt from the new fee.

Net metering comes into force

The new bill also brings into force net metering for both solar PV and small wind turbines. Due to the net metering scheme, YPEKA is forced to open once again the application procedure for small solar PV systems in areas where planning institutions had ceased accepting and processing new applications.

However, the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies (HELAPCO) has called the bill’s net metering arrangements "insufficient" since they require a very long period for the investment to be paid back. Households and businesses will not be easily persuaded to invest in net metering under the current arrangements, HELAPCO says. Such a net metering debate has been discussed at length in Greece many times previously.

New FIT cuts on the way

Meanwhile, YPEKA’s Deputy Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou confirmed the ministry is examining further FIT cuts. Currently, Papageorgiou confirmed, the ministry is in talks with Greek PV associations and the banks to conclude a so-called ‘new deal‘ among all parties that solves the RES fund deficit and protects the investments of the solar PV producers and the banks that loaned to them.

Solar PV associations have repeated they cannot accept any further cuts to their income and that many of them barely survive as it is.