May 25, 2018 / 11:53 AM / 7 months ago

Polish state has too much control over energy: regulator

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has increased its control over the energy sector to a level unseen for years, which could trigger EU competition concerns, Maciej Bando, the head of the energy regulator (URE) said on Friday.

Poland has four major power producers - PGE, Enea, Tauron and Energa - all under government control.

The conservative PiS party, which came to power in 2015, has clawed back control of many foreign-owned power and heating assets to ensure the country’s energy security.

The biggest deals include PGE buying power and heating assets from France’s EDF and Enea taking over the Polaniec power plant from Engie.

Earlier this week PGE announced a tender to take over smaller rival Polenergia, one of few private energy companies left in Poland.

“Such a jump in market concentration as in 2017, has probably been unseen in the past 25 years. De facto, there is one owner of Polish energy companies,” Bando told Reuters.

URE said that the share of Poland’s three biggest power companies - PGE, Enea and Tauron - in the volume of electricity fed into the grid rose in 2017 by 14 percentage points year-on-year to 69 percent.

“Concentration in the Polish energy sector is striking in terms of ratios and I think questions from the European Commission may come up in relation to this issue,” he added.

The EC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The opinion of the energy market regulator on a merger needs to be taken into account by the antimonopoly office when it approves or rejects a planned takeover.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper, Editing by Louise Heavens

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