EU Antitrust Regulators Accuse Greece’s Largest Power Utility of Predatory Pricing
The European Commission has levied charges against Greece’s leading power utility, Public Power Corporation (PPC), alleging that it engaged in anti-competitive behavior by selling electricity below cost in the wholesale market to stifle competition. The move could result in significant penalties for the company.
According to the EU antitrust regulators, PPC exploited its dominant position in the Greek wholesale electricity market between 2013 and 2019. The Commission alleges that PPC sold electricity generated by its thermal plants at prices below their variable costs, a practice known as predatory pricing. This strategy aimed to impede the growth of rival independent power providers and discourage investment in more sustainable energy sources, reported Reuters.
The investigation, initiated in March 2021, followed concerns raised about PPC’s conduct. The Greek sovereign wealth fund HCAP, which holds a 34% stake in PPC, is also implicated in the probe.
“The suspected effects of this alleged conduct on the Greek wholesale market for electricity were that independent power providers were marginalized and investment into more environmentally friendly energy sources was deterred,” stated the EU competition enforcer.
The Commission asserts that PPC’s actions could have led to adverse consequences, including higher prices for Greek consumers and increased levels of local pollution due to the reliance on less environmentally friendly energy sources.
PPC responded to the allegations by emphasizing that they pertain to a period predating Greece’s power market restructuring and the utility’s modernization efforts. In a filing with the bourse, PPC stated, “PPC will continue to cooperate with the Commission and take all appropriate and necessary steps to defend its rights.”
The case underscores the ongoing scrutiny faced by major players in the energy sector, particularly concerning practices that may hinder competition and innovation. The outcome of the investigation could have significant implications not only for PPC but also for the broader landscape of the Greek energy market and its consumers.