BRASILIA – Brazilians felt the increase in the electricity bill in their pockets in recent months. The severe water crisis this year made energy more expensive, due to the charging an additional fee to cover the cost of thermals, but the annual adjustments also weighed. Since the beginning of the year, energy tariffs for residential consumers have risen, on average, by 7.15%. And the trend is for the worse. Preliminary calculations of National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel) point out that tariffs may rise, on average, 16.68% next year, when President Jair Bolsonaro can run for re-election.
Aneel has already updated the tariff prices of 30 energy distribution concessionaires, which serve 16 states. Consumers from some municipalities in São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Paraná, served by Energisa South Southeast had the highest readjustment so far: 11.29%. Residents served by Cemig, in Minas Gerais, and Sulgipe, which serves municipalities in Sergipe and Bahia, had no readjustments this year or the bills were slightly cheaper, respectively.
Among the main factors for the rise in tariffs are the costs of sector charges, expenses with the purchase and transport of energy, effects of the IGP-M, since several distributors have contracts linked to the price index, and the exchange rate.
Although accentuated, especially at a time when the account is already pressured by the costs of thermal plants, the readjustments could have been greater. To alleviate the effects, Aneel approved a package of measures to “hold” the adjustments – and is already studying doing the same in 2022.
Among the actions are the abatement of tax credits improperly charged to consumers, the postponement of the payment of indemnities to transmission companies and the remuneration of distributors, and the use of resources that would be allocated to research and development (R&D) and unused energy efficiency programs to abate charges.
In public hearing at Chamber last week, the regulatory agency’s Tariff Management superintendent, Davi Antunes Lima, explained that the initial forecast of an increase in costs in 2021, due to the effects of the pandemic and the increase in energy costs, was R$29.57 billion – which would result in readjustments in the range of 18%. With the measures, costs were reduced to R$ 18.83 billion. “Aneel is very sensitive in relation to the electricity tariff. We make great efforts to try to mitigate these tariff impacts,” he told the deputies.
Although the measures have alleviated the readjustments, “pushing” expenses could cause the bill to skyrocket in the coming years. “Aneel is throwing forward a series of increases as has been happening this year, since May, is not good, it deceives the consumer, who pays less for something that is known to cost more. Given the current crisis, we have practically more than 20% contracted if the crisis continues as it is”, evaluated the former director of the agency Edvaldo Santana.
The coordinator of the Energy and Sustainability Program of the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection (Idec), Clauber Leite, affirmed that the relief at this moment is positive and an “encouragement” for the population, since the cost of energy has a high representation for the poorest families. He defends, however, that measures be studied so that, in fact, there is a reduction in the bills and not postponements of costs and that do not imply an excessive increase later.
“For example, the amount of ICMS (Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services) that is charged. It is one of the big costs of the tariffs, is charged on charges, on the flag, it is a collection that the consumer is in a position that he does not have much to do, what happens is a decrease in purchasing power,” he said.
Different readjustment percentages
Energy tariffs are adjusted on a case-by-case basis on the “anniversary” of each distributor’s contract, and the established percentages are different. Several factors are considered to define the value: the costs of generation, transmission, charges and even technical or non-technical losses – popularly known as “cats”. The result also brings different percentages for each type of consumer, that is, readjustment at one level for those connected to high voltage, such as large industries, at another level for those connected to low voltage, such as businesses and homes.
In some states, energy tariffs have not yet been corrected this year, but they will be. The estimate of TR Soluções, a technology company specializing in energy tariffs, is that the readjustment for residential tariffs will close the year at 9.7% – the forecast at the beginning of the year was an average increase of 17.1%. For the regulation director, Helder Sousa, the measures applied are good from a social point of view, but they can compromise predictability for companies operating in the electricity sector. “Companies carry out financial management and have a planning with a certain reference, and losing that, as they don’t know how much each one will have to review, is not so good,” he said.