UPDATE 1-Greece's Public Power core profit more than triples as energy costs drop

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ATHENS, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Greece’s biggest power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) said on Thursday that its second quarter core profit more than tripled from a year earlier, helped by a plunge in oil and gas prices this year.

PPC, which is 51% state-owned and plans to switch off all its coal-fired plants but one by 2023, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at 275.3 million euros ($325.93 million), up from 75.6 million in the same period last year.

It said its costs fell sharply as prices of fuel and natural gas for its plants, and carbon emissions costs, have fallen sharply due to the impact of the coronavirus.

PPC, which provides 66% of Greece’s electricity, has seen its finances suffer in recent years and still has more than 2.7 billion euros in unpaid bills owed by customers who struggled during the country’s economic crisis.

The utility said it was still having difficulties in collecting the bills, while revenue also dropped 11.7% to 1 billion euros on lower market share and weaker electricity demand during a lockdown that Greece imposed in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Chief Executive Officer Georgios Stassis was confident the utility would overshoot its 2020 EBITDA target, which was 650 million-700 million euros. EBITDA is now expected to reach 850 million-900 million euros as energy costs continued to drop, he said.

$1 = 0.8447 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton