* PPC says inspected over allegations it has violated competition
* Says provides every possible help to facilitate EU’s inspectors
* EU regulator says raided Greek power companies on Tuesday (Add statement from PPC, EU Commission)
By Angeliki Koutantou
ATHENS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The European Union’s competition authority is investigating Greece’s power utility PPC over allegations the utility has violated antitrust rules, PPC said on Wednesday.
Two sources told Reuters on Wednesday that the EU competition watchdog on Tuesday raided PPC and the headquarters of the country’s power grid operator ADMIE. PPC, which is 51 percent owned by the state, owns ADMIE.
PPC confirmed that inspection had begun on Tuesday as part of the EU regulator’s investigation into alleged abuse of PPC’s dominant position in the wholesale energy market since 2010. PPC said it was “providing every possible help to facilitate the inspectors’ work.”
The European Commission said EU antitrust regulators raided several Greek power companies on Tuesday on suspicion that the firms may be involved in anti-competitive practices but did not name them.
It can order companies to stop illegal practices and impose fines up to 10 percent of their global turnover if found guilty of breaking EU rules.
Greece is trying to reform its energy market, a key condition of the country’s international bailout, amid a row between PPC and smaller power producers over wholesale market prices.
Under the reform plan, the country has to spin off ADMIE from PPC by the end of March or fully privatise the grid. PPC has agreed to sell a stake in ADMIE to China’s State Grid International Development.
Athens also needs to cut PPC’s share in the retail market to below 50 percent by 2020 from about 90 percent.
Greece last year launched power auctions to force PPC to sell electricity to rival power producers and help to open up the market but it has been at odds with its international lenders over the effectiveness of the scheme.
PPC has appealed to the country’s top court over the auctions, saying the average price of the sales was clearly below the company’s production costs.
Smaller power producers have criticised the auctions, suggesting that PPC might need to divest some of its units for the market to open up, a plan that the government has strongly resisted. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jane Merriman)