High-cost thermals and more expensive fuels make the tariff flag of water scarcity unfeasible, says president of Abradee

GONÇALVES (MG) — The entry of thermal plants with higher operating costs made it impossible for the water scarcity tariff flag to be sufficient to cover the operations of fuel-powered plants instead of hydroelectric plants, which were affected by the very low level of their reservoirs.

The analysis is by Marcos Madureira, president of Abradee (the entity that represents the distributors), in a conversation with journalists, after participating in a virtual panel at the National Meeting of Electric Sector Agents (Enase), this Thursday (14).

The organization has been pressing the Ministry of Mines and Energy of the government of Jair Bolsonaro (no party) and Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency) on the financial mismatch between the amounts that distributors are receiving from consumers and what they pay to pay by energy.

The decompensation seen as the main agenda of the distributors lies in the successive increases in the price of natural gas and diesel, fuels that supply the thermal plants. Natural gas still suffers from other pressures due to the high demand from the European Union and China, which also impact the sale of the fuel in other markets.

For Madureira, the value of the extra fee will not cover the operating costs embedded in the thermal plants with the rise in fuel prices. The executive said that, in closed-door meetings with Aneel, solutions have been presented, but only the agency will be able to analyze and carry out measures to relieve the burden on operations.

The extra charge on the electricity bill jumped from R$9.49 to R$14.20 for each 100 kWh (kilowatt-hours) consumed. In force since September, the exceptional banner was created to offset the costs of thermal plants, which already account for 25% of the country’s energy generation at the moment.

The concern, at the moment, is whether the consumer will pay for a new readjustment of the extra fee. “We have been discussing with Aneel what kind of solution to take so that the consumer no longer has an impact [com a conta de luz]”, said Madureira.

According to Marizete Pereira, executive secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, a possible new readjustment of the water scarcity tariff flag should be suitable “both for companies [distribuidoras] and for the Brazilians’ ability to pay”.

The executive secretary, who also participated in Enase, stressed that the Mines and Energy folder is not responsible for defining the value of a possible readjustment. “What is guaranteed is that this tariff will remain unchanged until April 2022. In May, Aneel will define the new tariff flag level,” he said.

Monopoly

Discussions about the price of natural gas gained new contours on Thursday. The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), stated that the possibility of calling the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade) to investigate the price of gas sold by Petrobras is clear.

In the assessment of the representative of the national Legislative, the problem of gas in Brazil “comes down to something very simple: monopoly”. “Petrobras has a monopoly. It is not justified why the gas is extracted at US$ 2 and walks in the pipelines at more than US$ 10 to be distributed. Petrobras has to make an effort to give explanations”, said Lira, in an interview, to Rádio Bandeirantes.

“There are serious problems in the gas issue that the Chamber is aware of. There is a clear possibility of calling Cade to intervene in this monopoly issue.”

For Madureira, the import of energy and the mechanisms for reducing the consumption of this input for large consumers also impact distributors. “But nothing compares with the rise caused by the rise in fuel prices,” he said.

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