Pursuant to L.4685/2020 as in force, areas with saturated networks and the possibility of power absorption therein are determined upon a decision issued by the Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water (RAWEW), following a recommendation by the competent Administrator/s. To this end, it is stipulated that, in case where part of the Network/System is saturated and it appears that there is no prospect of upgrading it in accordance with the recommendations of the Administrator/s, the applications for the granting of Connection Terms Offers (CTOs) to RES stations that are connected to that part of the Network/System may be suspended, following a relevant RAWEW’s decision. In the present case, the region of Peloponnese as well as the island of Crete were characterized, among others, as “saturated networks”, pursuant to RAWEWs’ decisions no. 96/2007 and no. 699/2012.

By way of derogation from the above provisions and pursuant to art.132 of L.4819/2021 as in force in conjunction with the Ministerial Decision no. ΥΠΕΝ/ΔΑΠΕΕΚ/81744/3673 (OJ B’ 4221/10.08.2022), it is provided that the issuance of CTOs for PV stations up to 400 MW in areas characterized as “saturated networks” is allowed under certain conditions. In particular, the Law provides for specific total capacity limitations to be allocated to the abovementioned regions, namely, a total capacity limitation of 86 MW with regard to Peloponnese and a total capacity limitation of 180 MW (of which 40 MW will be provided exclusively for net metering) for Crete.

Under the said Law, it is also stipulated that the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) is responsible for conducting the respective tenders as well for developing and operating a special electronic platform for the electronic submission of the applications for the granting of final CTOs for the PV stations to be installed in these regions. To this end, following the completion of the platform’s operation, HEDNO, on 22.09.2022, called for the submission of the applications for CTOs for the stations in question, stating that the submission date of the application for CTOs for Peloponnese shall be on 21.10.2022, whereas for Crete on 25.10.2022.

Following the conduct of the said tenders and in relation to the applications for CTOs that have been submitted to HEDNO for these regions, participants’ complaints have been filled to RAWEW concerning the operational malfunction of HEDNO’s electronic platform whereas allegations were made with respect to the use of robotic software during the submission of applications for CTOs for Crete, that subsequently led to many applicants being unable to submit their application on a timely manner and therefore being excluded.

To this end, RAWEW proceeded to the appointment of an expert entrusted with the investigation of the procedures carried out through HEDNO’s electronic platform, whereas HEDNO suspended the examination procedure of the respective applications until the issuance of a decision on the said complaints based on the expert’s findings.

The expert’s findings revealed numerous issues, including amongst others, programming errors that caused delay to the system’s operation, issues relating to the submission of applications on days and time during which there had been no prior notification that the system was receiving applications, cases of repeated submissions of applications or submission of blank data, as well as numerous cases of failed user’s authentication errors. On this basis, the expert stated that HEDNO neither took any precautionary measures to prohibit third-party access to the system, especially regarding countries known for executing massive cyberattacks nor managed to anticipate or use mechanisms to prevent malicious attacks by automated bots.

In light of the above, RAWEW, by virtue of its Decision E-132/2023, concluded that HEDNO failed to display proper diligence as it regards its duty to develop a secure and fully operational information system, in the essence that, it neither demonstrated its readiness in terms of the conduct of the respective tenders on a timely manner nor provided to the participants, the conditions of equality and transparency required. As a result, due to the severity and the extent of the irregularities detected, RAWEW imposed a fine of one million euros (€1,000,000) on HEDNO.

However, it is highlighted that RAWEW did not decide on whether the results of these tenders should be either approved or annulled.

Up to now and in light of the recent appeals against the results of the tenders and the respective petitions for their annulment filed before the Administrative Court of Appeal by the excluded applicants, the respective decisions of the Court are expected so that their outcome can be decided.

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