study in government and turtles in Congress

As a study assesses how to bring portability of electric bills to homes, the “turtles” presented by lawmakers are trying to speed up the schedule. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr / Agência Brasil

The full opening of the free energy market in Brazil, which would allow all consumers to choose their energy supplier, has been gradually implemented by the federal government, but it remains an uncertainty for households.

The so-called portability of electricity bills, which would allow consumers to make their energy service the same as a telephone line, by choosing the supplier they find the most advantageous, already has a date to extend into the years. to come to consumers with a load equal to or greater than 500 kW. But it remains undefined for the smallest sizes.

While the government has not finalized the study that will point the way to an unrestricted opening, members of Congress have tried to speed it up through so-called “turtles” – amendments tabled to the interim measures that originally deal with other issues.

Under the current rule, the criterion for entering the free market is consumption equal to or greater than 1,500 kW of energy, which is half of the load required by the end of 2020. These consumers are free to negotiate and buy energy directly from a producer or trading company. of their choice – even if they also remain customers of the distributor, who carries the “light” from the production site to the end via the network.

The timetable of the Ministry of Mines and Energy provides for further reductions in the minimum load from January 1, 2022 (1,000 kW) and 2023 (500 kW). It should be noted that consumers of this size already have partial access to the free market, albeit with restrictions, such as purchasing energy produced from exclusively renewable sources. The calendar in question deals with general freedom of action, whatever the source of energy.

Other consumers, with a load of less than 500 kW, are limited to the regulated market and cannot choose the supplier. They are necessarily linked to the local distributor, paying tariffs defined by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), with no possibility of choice – and remain in the dark as to when they will reach the possibility of entering the market. free of energy.

These are the vast majority of consumer units in the country – all residential, small business, among others. The exception is for the cases of formalization of groups of consumers, who, in practice, add their charges to reach sizes comparable to those included in the free market.

For those who are limited to the regulated market and without portability (also called captives), the expectation is the completion of a study provided for in the same 2019 ordinance of the MME.

Study to Bring Portability of Electricity Bills to Residential Consumers

Led by Aneel and the Electric Power Chamber of Commerce (CCEE) to indicate full openness step by step, the work should indicate the measures needed to lift access restrictions for smaller consumers. “The ultimate success of this business is when [a abertura] reach us, residential, ”says Marcelo Loureiro, member of the CCEE board of directors. According to him, the study should be delivered to the file even before the deadline, which is January 31, 2022.

The common work intends to indicate the means of making the portability of the electricity bill accessible to all, but in a sustainable and continuous manner. “It needs to be coordinated, organized, maybe it will be gradual, it won’t happen overnight, there are steps to take. So I would say it’s a few years journey to achieve this. full openness, “he said. said.

According to CCEE data, the free energy market ended July with 9,350 consumers, a still low number, but one that is growing and has more than doubled since 2019, and alone accounts for around a third. of all the energy consumed in the countryside.

In recent years, free consumers have paid prices between 20% and 30% lower than those charged by distributors. The assessment is that this benefit could reach over 84 million consumer units, although there are challenges to overcome to achieve this.

The “turtles” of the free market

A card for the opening is being prepared, but initiatives are underway to try to speed up the definition of the program at Congress. Total liberation is the subject of amendments presented to the text of the recent provisional measures, even if they are foreign to the initial objective of the articles: first in the MP for Eletrobras and now in the MP 1 055, for the emergency response to the water crisis.

The full opening of the free energy market first appeared as an amendment to PM 1.031 / 2021, which paved the way for the privatization of Eletrobras. The text provided for a gradual transition over the previous three years and full release from 2026, but the point was withdrawn by the rapporteur.

Now, this same amendment – presented this time by federal deputy Arnaldo Jardim (Cidadania-SP) – is among the nearly 300 suggested to the deputy who created the Chamber of exceptional rules for the management of hydropower (CREG) . The group was created by the Executive to optimize the use of resources and deal with the current water crisis, in order to guarantee the continuity and security of the country’s energy supply.

Not being directly related to the subject of the Member either, another amendment intends to open it even more quickly. Integrated by the deputy Danilo Forte (PSDB-CE), it gives access to the portability of the electricity bill for all consumers from 2023.

In addition to the turtles placed in the deputies, there is also a bill on the subject which was arrested in the House. PL 414/2021 (formerly PLS 232/2016, approved by a Senate committee in a final decision) awaits a decision from the Speaker of the House and has no plans to be put to the vote. The text deals specifically with improving the regulatory and business model of the electricity sector with a view to expanding the free market.

The deletion of the amendment to deputy Eletrobras would even be an agreement to favor this debate, which has already started in the Senate and which will still be carried out by deputies.

Market opening in response to the water crisis

In early July, the Brazilian Association of Energy Traders (Abraceel) proposed to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to expand access to the free market for some of the captive consumers in response to the water crisis. at the end of consumption.

The proposal spoke of a transitional opening to high voltage consumers whose subscribed demand was less than 500 kW and to low voltage consumers whose monthly consumption was greater than 5,000 kWh / month, provided that they prove their ability to reduce their demand. average energy consumption of 20% and assume the commitment to do so for a specified period.

According to the Association, if it were applied, the measure would have the capacity to save energy equivalent to the consumption of 5 million homes. According to the evaluation of the Electric Power Chamber of Commerce (CCEE), the solution is good, with the merit of being able to identify consumers who are really able to react to the price, because in an open market, consumers react and adjust their consumption.

Contacted, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) informed that all the proposals were part of the analysis for the development of the ordinance for the implementation of the voluntary load shedding program. In the guidelines presented in the RVD public consultation, however, the voluntary demand reduction offer to serve the National Interconnected Grid is limited to consumers who can already access the free energy market, small hydropower plants and to self-producers of energy, authorized to exchange their surpluses. The MME has yet to respond if the suggestion is still under review.

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