BRASILIA – The bonus that the government will create for those who save energy in the coming months will be paid by the consumers themselves, through diluted increases in everyone’s electricity bill. Engaging each customer individually to save electricity and contribute to facing the water crisis together will also involve a convincing strategy so that people do not feel cheated, since the discount will be proportionally small in the final bill value of light.
As found the Estadão/Broadcast, the government intends to reward consumers who reduce consumption by a level of 10% to 20% with a bonus. Anyone who saves less than 10% will not receive a bonus. Those who save between 10% and 20% will receive an amount, which is still undefined, but less than R$1 for each kilowatt-hour (kWH) saved. The bonus will be capped at 20%, that is, whoever saves more than 20% will not receive an additional prize.
Although the government has considered a bonus of R$ 1 for every 1 kWh saved, technicians considered the value unfeasible and now work with the hypothesis of R$ 0.50 per 1 kWh. For a comparison, the average tariff paid by residential consumers today is BRL 607.60 per MWh – that is, BRL 0.60 per 1 kWh, and the bonus, therefore, cannot be greater than this value for that the cost of energy is actually paid. The problem is that generating additional energy is much more expensive than this average. The thermoelectric William Arjona, in Mato Grosso do Sul, costs R$2,000 per MWh, or R$2 per 1 kWh.
On average, a Brazilian family consumes 163 kilowatt-hours per month, the equivalent of R$139.26, including taxes. If you manage to save 20%, for example, this same family would pay a 36% lower bill, if the bonus was R$ 0.50: in addition to the 130.4 kWh, they would receive a bonus on the 32.6 kWh saved and would pay BRL 88.43. If this premium were R$1, a scenario practically discarded, the account would be R$65.45, or 47% lower.
One of the problems is that the Ministry of Economy does not accept to open extraordinary credit – with resources from the Budget gives Unity – to bank the bonus. Another impasse is that the government wants to reward those who save, but does not want to punish those who spend more with a fine or compulsory cut – as was done in 2001. This would be a simpler and easier-to-explain model, but it was discarded to prevent it from becoming characterized a rationing, something whose political weight can derail the president’s reelection plans Jair Bolsonaro.
Thus, the idea is that the set of consumers pay, proportionally, for the additional cost of generation, through a rate called System Service Charges (ESS). The ESS is paid via the tariff flag and, if the cost of the plants exceeds the amount collected, it is transferred to the annual tariff adjustment of each distributor. After paying this cost, the consumer who saves energy will have a part of this amount returned to the electricity bill – but only his individual savings, and at a lower amount than what he actually paid.
To the former director of National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel) Edvaldo Santana, the consumer may feel wronged by this system. In 2001, the energy that was saved by the consumer could be sold, through traders, or settled in the short-term market, at high prices, he explained.
“In general, premium energy rationing is usually effective. The problem is to deceive the consumer and make him pay for himself, and return only a part. Who should pay is the generator that has no energy, in the case of hydroelectric plants, that is, whoever is sold in the market”, said Santana.
For him, however, for the program to be effectively successful, it should have already been announced, with rules widely publicized and explained to the population. Santana also claims that it is necessary to choose an adequate basis for comparison so that the consumer does not feel aggrieved. The correct thing, in his opinion, would be to compare with the average consumption for the months of June, July and August 2020 – a period in which the restrictions of the pandemic made consumers stay longer at home and spend more.
Aneel still needs to define the new level of red flag level two, which will take effect from September 1st. The expectation is that the Chamber of Exceptional Rules for Hydroenergy Management (Creg) – body chaired by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) – Determine, this Tuesday, 31, that the agency transfer the costs of measures taken to prevent blackouts for the flag. It would be a way to share the responsibility for bad news with several agencies. So far, the agency has not called a public meeting to approve the amount.
How did the Estadão/Broadcast, internal government calculations point to the need for the level 2 red flag, currently at R$ 9.49 per 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh), be raised to something between BRL 15 and BRL 20 between September and May 2022. There is also a limit scenario of up to R$25 between September and December, returning to R$9.49 in January, which despite being preferred by Aneel, is unlikely to be adopted.
The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, is against a higher increase and for a shorter period, to prevent inflation from rising beyond what has already accumulated a high of 8.99% in the 12 months until July. That’s because the inflation consumes space in the spending ceiling and would oblige the central bank to further increase the benchmark interest rate.