EuroAsia Interconnector, the project promoter of the 1,000 MW electricity cable between Israel, Cyprus, Crete and mainland Greece, is suing the energy regulator RAE in Athens for breach of contract after the latter changed its mind and dropped its support for the project, opting instead to award it to the Chinese-controlled transmission system operator ADMIE.
The decision to give the Crete-Attica section of the subsea cable to ADMIE has upset European Commission officials who have expressed regret at the Greek U-turn, despite successive administrations in Athens supporting the project since 2012.
The lawsuit filed in the Administrative Court of Appeals in Athens said RAE, citing alleged delays in commissioning the project, had no right to award the EUR 1.1 bln contract to a third party without first asking EuroAsia.
The project promoter insists that the commissioning is not delayed, and the first section will be delivered as planned in the summer of 2022, followed by the Crete-Cyprus link by the end of 2023.
The Cyprus company, that has been included in three successive lists designating it as an EU project of common interest (PCI), thus entitled to European grants and lower-cost borrowing, said the link will cost about EUR 330 mln at the date of commissioning and will end the energy-isolation of Cyprus which is the last non-interconnected EU member state.
The situation worsened last month when an old transformer at an outdated power station in Crete blew up, sending the entire island into darkness with serious doubts if Crete will ever enjoy secure energy supply if the EuroAsia cable is delayed by Athens even further.
Responding to questions posed by socialist Pasok MEP Eva Kaili, Energy Commissioner Manuel Arias Canete stated “the Commission fully acknowledges the urgency of Crete’s security of supply and has done its utmost to ensure that priority would be given to the Crete-Attica section of the EuroAsia Interconnector.
“The Commission proposed a Roadmap, which, if followed, would ensure the implementation in a timely and cost-efficient manner within the PCI framework, with a technical and economic solution that would ensure the viability and feasibility of the other two PCI sections and an optimal level of interoperability.
“The Commission regrets that the Greek Government did not agree on the Roadmap and decided to implement the Crete-Attica interconnection as a ‘national’ project renouncing the aforementioned benefits.”
Kathimerini newspaper added that the Commission is expected to launch the relevant “infringement” procedure in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if Greece does not comply with the European regulation.
It said that Commissioner Canete sent a letter to Greek Energy Minister George Stathakis and left open such a possibility in case the Crete-Attica interconnection proceeded as a national plan, and not as part of the EuroAsia Interconnector.