Eli Elias, CEO da Brasil Energias, concede entrevista especial à Agência Internacional BNAmericas.
Eli Elias disse ao veículo que os reajustes tarifários das distribuidoras, se devem, em grande parte, às negociações realizadas no ano passado para subsidiar a inadimplência dos consumidores provocada pela pandemia, além do aumento dos custos da hidrelétrica de Itaipu, cujo contrato paraguaio está em dólares americanos, além de outros subsídios.
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Brazilian power sector under strain amid record low rainfall
Brazilian power sector regulator Aneel may have to activate its red flag tariff system in May, as water reservoirs at local hydroelectric power plants have fallen to historic lows, according to specialists.
“We’re in a very bad situation with reservoirs, close to chaos, and entering the dry period where the rains stops in the southeast, so the thermoelectric plants will stay on until the end of the year,” João Sanchez, CEO of energy trader Trinity Energia, told BNamericas.
“We predict that in May we will have a red flag at level 1 and in June a red flag at level 2, which should last until October. Then we will have to see how the rainy season comes,” he said.
The tariff flag system indicates generation conditions and costs for power consumers. When production at hydro plants – whose energy is cheaper than that of thermoelectric plants – is favorable, Aneel activates the green flag. Under worse conditions of water availability, the yellow or red flags (level 1 or 2) may be activated.
According to Sanchez, the average levels of Brazil’s water reservoirs in the southeast region are currently at 35%, at a time when national consumption is relatively high.
“If we further depreciate the reservoirs, they will be practically empty, and we’ll have to adopt power rationing or run the risk of blackouts,” Sanchez underlined.
He added that he does not see anything else the government could do to reduce energy prices. “What is being done are measures so that prices don’t rise by more than they already have, so the readjustments aren’t even larger.”
Last week, Aneel approved a two-year postponement, to 2027, of payment of debts owed by consumers to power transmission companies as a means of containing rates.
Moacyr Carmo, president of Argon Energias, said the possibility of Aneel deploying the red flag tariff exists, given the current water reservoir situation.
“But we have to remember that, structurally, the availability of energy supply, including all sources, still exceeds the demand predicted by the [national grid operator] ONS, so there’s no risk of rationing this year,” he told BNamericas, pointing out that free market prices will depend on the energy supply, especially from northeastern wind plants, as well as from rains in the south.
Eli Elias, of Brasil Energias, does not see the situation as being so chaotic.
“With the expansion of the transmission system between the submarkets, combined with the growth of alternative power sources, especially wind power, which has its greatest generation period between July and September, we are less dependent on the more expensive thermal plants,” he told BNamericas.
Elias believes Aneel will actually maintain the green flag tariff in May – or the yellow one at worst.
“We may have a red flag further ahead, between September and October, when the reservoirs will be lower and we’ll have less wind energy coming from the Northeast,” he said.
With regard to the rate readjustments of distributors, Elias pointed out they are mostly due to the negotiations conducted last year to subsidize consumer defaults caused by the pandemic, in addition to the increase in the costs of the Itaipu hydro plant, whose Paraguayan contract is in US dollars, in addition to other subsidies.
“We’re still paying the financing of the multi-billion costs caused by [former president] Dilma Rousseff’s [provisional measure] MP579,” which was issued to reduce consumer electricity prices, he recalled.
When contacted by BNamericas, Aneel said it does not disclose forecasts regarding the flag tariff system and that the flag for May will be activated on April 30.
The mines and energy ministry’s (MME) press office said the electric power sector’s monitoring committee (CMSE) has adopted the necessary measures to assure energy supply at the lowest cost and taking into account the hydrological scenario, which has seen the lowest rainfall over the past seven months for more than 90 years, it added.
“Considering the measures adopted, the committee reiterates the guarantee of electricity supply to Brazilian consumers in 2021, with a commitment to maintaining the provision of services by the Brazilian electricity sector in the current and future scenario,” the MME said in a statement.