With the harsh winter of Northern Greece just around the corner, the country’s largest energy center for more than 60 years, has already turned on the district heating switch. However, this year the έχει counter has gone crazy, causing an “electroshock” in the municipal company that manages it.
This is because, after the “sealing” last May of the lignite station of Kardia – in the context of de-lignification – which until then supplied hot steam to the district heating, it was decided, as a transitional solution, by PPC to install two electric boilers of 40 MW (megawatt) each. The calculations, however, were made when the cost of electricity had in fact started to rise, but did not exceed 130 to 140 euros per megawatt hour.
“Now that the price is moving, for days now, I am steadily going from 200 euros per megawatt hour – on Tuesday it had even climbed to 253.33 euros – the cost has taken off”, says an agent of the municipality of Eordea. And he explains: “When Kardia was working, the production of the thermal megawatt hour was at 7.5 euros and together with the other costs – maintenance, salaries, etc. – it reached the consumer at about 37 euros. We knew that electric boilers would increase the cost of district heating. It was estimated, when the wholesale electricity price was around 135 euros per megawatt hour, that the cost would reach 30 to 32 million euros per year, from 6.5 million euros per year in the lignite era. A cost that could hardly be covered by the municipality so as not to burden the citizens “.
The uncontrolled rally of electricity prices has alarmed the executives of the Municipal District Heating Company of Ptolemaida (DETIP) and the municipal authority of the area. The negotiations of the local authorities with the political leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Energy but also with the PPC administration are already intensive, as the only solution, according to the officials of the Municipality of Eordaia, is the megawatt hour subsidy for this winter. According to the same sources, it has been found where the fund can come from, however, the financial staff of the government is looking for the way it will be granted so that it is not considered state aid. “So it will hardly be given directly to PPC”, they comment.
In any case, although it has not yet been determined if and how the thermal megawatt hour in Ptolemaida will be subsidized, the warm-up of the networks was completed on Monday and the heating is provided normally so that the Eordea basin does not “freeze”. “In any case, the exorbitant costs will not be borne by the consumers”, insists an agent of the municipality, although the “hot” prices of district heating are impossible to be covered by the D.E.TIP. That is why they are pressuring government to subsidize in order for this collective, urban heating alternative to continue.
Except for the middle of 2022, the electrification of the new lignite unit of PPC “Ptolemaida V” is planned, with which the district heating system of the basin will be connected. The project of interconnection with the unit under construction _ heat transfer pipes, pumping stations, thermal power plants _ has already been included in the Operational Program “Transport Infrastructure, Environment and Sustainable Development 2014-2020 ” with an initial budget of €28.5 million, of which €20 million is public expenditure and €8.5 million is the equity of DETIP.