Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency) yesterday authorized an agreement between the Union and the concessionaire of the line between Manaus (AM) and Boa Vista (RR) through an arbitration process, a modality of conflict resolution without the participation of the Power Judiciary. The term of commitment will be signed between the regulatory agency and the project’s concessionaire, Transnorte Energia. The decision was published in an extra edition of the Diário Oficial da União.
Auctioned in September 2011, the line never left the paper due to an impasse with indigenous communities. The line, planned to connect the State of Roraima to the national electricity system, should have been delivered in 2015, but the companies were not even able to start the works due to lack of environmental licensing. Of the total 721 km of the route planned to be built, 125 km pass through the Waimiri Atroari indigenous land, where there are 31 villages and 1,600 Indians live.
In view of the impasse in starting the work, the termination of the contract and, alternatively, the economic and financial rebalancing have been discussed in the regulatory agency in recent years. Without a resolution, the concessionaire, formed by Eletronorte and Alupar, appealed to the Judiciary and today has a court decision in favor of the onerous revocation of the project’s grant. The decision through the arbitration process will put an end to the dispute, which involves the Union, Ibama and Funai, which may intervene in the process. The measure had the authorization of the Attorney General of the Union (AGU) and the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME).
The request for the arbitration process was made to the agency by the concessionaire itself and is the first of this modality within the scope of the regulatory agency of the electricity sector. The request took place because Transnorte disagrees with the conditions and values defined by Aneel for the rebalancing of the concession and by the decision of the Granting Authority to maintain the contract. “The objective is to find a solution for the maintenance of the current contract and the continuity of the interconnection works, valuing the public interest, with the guarantee of energy security”, says the vote of the rapporteur of the process, director Elisa Bastos.
The process will be conducted by an Arbitral Tribunal composed of three arbitrators: one will be appointed by the regulatory agency, one appointed by Transnorte and the third, who will preside over the court, will be appointed by the two arbitrators chosen by the parties.
Attorney Rômulo Mariani, a partner at Baraldi Mariani Advogados, explains that the resolution of conflicts through the arbitration process has the same foundation and effectiveness as a judicial process. But, despite a similar rite, there will be no possibility of appeal against the final decision, which can speed up the discussion. According to him, there are not many criteria for defining the representatives of the parties, but it is recommended that they be a professional who has specific knowledge on the subject.
According to the regulatory agency, the expectation is that the environmental license for the construction of the project will be issued soon, as, on August 11, a final meeting was held with the indigenous people. Today’s decision provides that, if the arbitration award on the financial rebalancing is not rendered before the start of commercial operation of the line, an Annual Allowed Revenue (RAP) of R$ 329 million will be provisionally applied. The amount represents the company’s remuneration for providing the transmission service.
Since 2019, the Bolsonaro government has tried to unlock the works, but without success. The government included the project in the list of strategic works in 2019. The intention was to accelerate the licensing concession. The Ministry of Mines and Energy also joined the discussions on the financial feasibility of the project. One of the proposals was to transfer a supplement to the revenue to the concessionaire, to be paid through subsidies in energy tariffs. But, the idea was abandoned.
The transmission line was planned to connect Roraima to the national interconnected system (SIN) of energy. The State is the only one that is not integrated into the country’s electrical system. Since March 2019, the energy supply has been completely dependent on thermal power plants powered by diesel oil, due to the complete interruption of the energy supply from Venezuela. The cost of fuel is subsidized by the Energy Development Account (CDE) and shared by all consumers in the country.