The federal government issued a decree that allows the balance of the account formed by the sale of energy from the Itaipu hydroelectric plant to be used to reduce readjustments in the electricity bills of part of consumers in the South, Southeast and Midwest regions in 2021.
The measure, published on Thursday (1st), authorizes a kind of loan. This means that consumers benefited by the measure this year will have to return the funds later, also on electricity bills. The return period will be defined by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel).
However, the use of these resources will require the payment of a bonus to be postponed, a value expected to be returned this year to a portion of consumers in the three regions, via electricity bills (read more below).
According to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the balance of this account linked to Itaipu is currently around R $ 600 million.
This government action takes place amid the expectation of a sharp increase in electricity bills in 2021. Aneel’s estimate points out that the average tariff readjustment this year should be around 13%. If confirmed, it will be the largest since 2018.
The pressure on the price of energy comes from a series of factors, such as the increase in the use of thermoelectric energy (more expensive), inflation, high costs with energy transmission, in addition to the billion dollar deficit in the tariff flags account registered last year. and that will have to be paid by consumers in 2021.
Aneel raises less with tariff and electricity bill gets more expensive
It also contributes to the increase in the value of the energy generated by the Itaipu hydroelectric plant. This is because the energy of this hydroelectric plant, managed by Brazil and Paraguay, is quoted in dollars.
In early January 2020, the US currency was worth R $ 4.02. At the end of March 2021, it was quoted at R $ 5.62.
The increase in energy from Itaipu specifically affects consumers in the South, Southeast and Midwest regions. This is because the legislation establishes that the distributors in these three regions are responsible for purchasing the power from the plant.
The situation of the account formed by the sale of energy from Itaipu is also reflected in tariffs. The law provides that, when the account linked to the hydroelectric plant is in the red, the loss is covered by consumers in the three regions.
However, when it turns blue, the account balance is prorated with consumers, who receive an annual bonus. This payment is made to those who consume less than 350 kWh (quillowatts-hour) of energy per month.
The decree published on Thursday by the government alters the rule for apportioning the balance of the Itaipu account. From now on:
- instead of the annual payment, the text establishes that, when the Itaipu account goes blue, it will be up to Aneel to define the “periodicity”, that is, when the bonus will be paid to consumers;
- the decree authorizes Aneel to postpone the payment that distributors need to make for Itaipu’s energy;
- and determines that the benefited distributors will, in turn, have to postpone the transfer of the increase in their tariffs to consumers in the same proportion;
- the sum of postponed payments cannot exceed the balance of the Itaipu account;
- the postponed payments “will be replenished to the ITAIPU Electricity Trading account, ensuring the tariff transfer, within the term established by ANEEL”, says the decree.
In other words: when the Itaipu account is in the blue, Aneel may postpone the payment of the bonus and use this money as a “loan” to distributors that, in turn, reduce their tariff readjustments.
The distributors will have to return the “borrowed” amount to the Itaipu account, and the postponed tariff adjustments may be passed on to the electricity bills according to a schedule defined by the agency.
As the energy from Itaipu is linked to the South, Southeast and Midwest, only distributors in these regions may be the target of this type of operation.
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