EBRD supports investments in the electricity distribution grid by Poland’s ENERGA Group

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD is supporting a massive investment programme by the Polish power company ENERGA SA (“ENERGA”) and its distribution arm ENERGA OPERATOR SA (“ENERGA OPERATOR”) which represents a major step in the modernisation of the country’s electricity distribution network. As part of the programme distribution grid capacity will be strengthened and efficiency will be boosted with the introduction of an advanced metering system as part of new smart grid solutions.

The EBRD will provide a long-term corporate loan to ENERGA of up to PLN 800 million (EUR 195 million equivalent). The Bank will hold up to 50% of the loan, i.e. PLN 400 million (EUR 97.5 million equivalent) and will syndicate the remaining part to two Polish commercial banks, namely PKO Bank Polski and ING Bank Śląski. The total cost of ENERGA OPERATOR’s 2012-2015 investment programme is approximately PLN 5.2 billion (EUR 1.3 billion equivalent).

ENERGA is one of the largest power utilities in Poland with its operations concentrated in the north and the central areas of the country. The company is 84% state-owned and is expected to be partially privatised later this year. The modernisation programme represents a major step towards raising the company’s attractiveness to potential investors.

Similarly to power generation, the Polish electricity distribution assets are also aging and their efficiency is lagging behind the industry’s best standards. Consequently, efficiency improvements and an expansion of the electricity distribution network require significant investment.

Nandita Parshad, EBRD’s Director Power and Energy Utilities, said: “This is a very important transaction for our Bank, our partner ENERGA and also for the Republic of Poland. ENERGA’s massive investment programme includes the first commercial roll-out of intelligent metering in Poland. Therefore, it will not only improve the electricity grid reliability but will also benefit customers, allowing for new tailor-made solutions for electricity supply. The transaction also partially addresses the issue of securing the future of energy supplies in Poland by compensating for expiring distribution grid capacity with increased efficiency and new connections for renewables.”

Mirosław Bieliński, CEO of ENERGA SA, added: “This is the second consecutive financing provided by the EBRD to ENERGA Group, and we perceive this as a gesture of trust and positive assessment of the implementation of our investment strategy, which is based on a conservative level of indebtedness and low risk”.

The energy sector is one of the EBRD’s top priorities in Poland with over EUR 1 billion of investments. To date the Bank has invested more than EUR 6 billion of its own funds in all sectors of the Polish economy with the total projects’ value exceeding of EUR 31.3 billion. A first EBRD-financed project with ENERGA, signed in 2010, has been successfully implemented.