Estonian state-owned electricity distribution network operator Elektrilevi is being forced to sell its recently acquired ELMO electric vehicle charger network, news portal Geenius reports, despite one of the terms of sale being the company could not sell the infrastructure in the first five years.
Last year the state decided to privatize the nation-wide Estonian Electromobility Programme (ELMO), which was put up for auction and split-up into vehicle renting and vehicle charging.
Elektrilevi was declared the winner of the auction for the ELMO network of electric vehicle quick charging infrastructure in August 2018. Of two bids submitted it was the only suitable one, ERR News reported at the time.
But in accordance with a EU directive which will amend the Electricity Market Act, which Estonia is to adopt next year, distribution companies, such as Elektrilevi, must not own, develop, operate or operate recharging points for electric vehicles, Geenius writes.
Elektrilevi is now required to sell its electric vehicle charging infrastructure ELMO the Competition Authority said. But in doing so, they will be fined, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said due to the conditions of the initial sale which has a 10 percent penalty fee if they sell within the first five years.
Preparation of the directive started already in 2016, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said its final wording was set in June this year, so at the auction in 2018, the ministry was not obliged to state in the terms of the bid that the EU directive imposing restrictions on distribution companies.
Marko Viiding, head of electric transport at Elektrilevi, told ERR the company is currently not planning any changes due to the directive and selling is only one possible option.
"After all, this same notorious directive states that there must be no market failure. I think it is a question of interpretation whether there is still a market failure in Estonia. Let's recall that bids for the sale of Elmo's infrastructure which were received a little over a year ago, and there were only two bidders, one of which failed to demonstrate that it would manage this infrastructure. I would say that at least then there was a market failure. Now today, a year later, this market failure has disappeared, it still needs to be analyzed. So this directive is actually not very black and white," he said.
Viiding said today's electric car owners do not have to worry about service disruption: "We definitely have an interest in being in this business. Our owner, Eesti Energia, is very interested in dealing with it, because we see electric cars as an important part of the future energy system. Initially, the service will continue. We are bringing in European standards, improving the accessibility of this service, improving the customer experience. All of these are ongoing and we have told the public in the past that there are likely to be tangible changes already this year," Viiding said.
In August 2018 there were 168 ELMO fast charge stations across Estonia, which were sold to Elektrilevi together with the right of use of the ELMO web domain and trademark.
Editor: Helen Wright