The board of Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency) failed to assess at a meeting this Tuesday (7) whether four delayed thermal plants of the Âmbar company can be covered by another plant of the same group, as authorized by a precautionary decision of the agency contested by entities representing consumers.
A decision on the matter was expected to be taken during the meeting. With the lack of discussion on the subject, the monocratic decision of the interim director general, Camila Bomfim, is valid – who, on Friday (3), suspended the use of the Mário Covas thermal plant to cover the lack of energy in four units behind schedule. from the company.
Ambar’s four thermal plants are part of a total of 17 plants (14 gas plants and three with renewable raw materials) that won, in October last year, a new type of auction – the PCS (Simplified Competitive Procedure).
The company with the highest contracted volume was EPP (Evolution Power Partner), with 43% of the energy traded, at a cost of almost R$ 18 billion — concentrated in just four thermal plants.
Subsequently, EPP sold the four plants to Âmbar, which began to seek alternatives from Aneel to circumvent the prospect that they would not be able to operate from May 1st (and, therefore, would pay a fine).
Ámbar is the energy arm of the J&F group, which also controls JBS — a global company in the meat sector.
The delay in the works of these plants was mapped in a survey by Abrace, based on data from the agency itself. They were so late at the end of April that there was a risk they would not get off the ground, according to the entity.
Âmbar had been looking for alternatives since the beginning of the year, until it offered energy from a thermal plant in Cuiabá (Mário Covas, which was already in operation) in place of the delayed plants.
However, the PCS rules were specific and clear. Only new plants could participate, which never sold energy or were built from scratch. Mandatory, they should start generating energy on May 1, with regular supply until 2025.
According to the rules, the delay in the operation, starting in May, provides for a monthly fine and also subjects the company to cancel the contract after three months of delays – that is, August 1st.
In the first demonstration, in January, the technical area invalidated the company’s proposal. The second attempt, made in April, was accepted on May 17 at Aneel’s board meeting — without having been scrutinized by technicians or the attorney general’s office, as the new process took place in secrecy.
The reporting director, Efrain Pereira da Cruz, approved the operation on a precautionary basis — that is, not definitively. Thus, it suspended the payment of R$ 209 million monthly in fines and released the payments to Âmbar, which, according to projections, would receive almost R$ 1 billion for energy from the Cuiabá thermal plant until the end of July, if it operated uninterruptedly within that period.
The then deputy general director of Aneel, Hélvio Neves Guerra, who presided over the work at the time, also participated and endorsed the injunction; and director Sandoval de Araújo Feitosa Neto, who will take over as the agency’s general director.
From the beginning, the caution was received with surprise by entities that represent energy consumers – since the assessment is that the measure did not bring benefits, on the contrary, it harmed by unnecessarily burdening the electricity bill.
The use of the Mário Covas thermal generated opposite reactions. The TCU (Union Court of Auditors) asked the agency for clarification. The Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, described the measure as absurd in conversations with those accompanying the discussion. Idec (Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection) also spoke out against the measure.
Abrace, Anace (National Association of Energy Consumers) and the Polis Institute, a civil society entity that defends citizens’ rights, have already asked for the suspension of the precautionary measure.
Now, it has been decided that the merits will be discussed at the next Aneel meeting, on June 14th.
Ámbar will pay a fine from May 1st to May 17th, receive revenue from May 18th to June 2nd (period in which the Cuiabá thermal plant was authorized to replace the others), and pay a fine again from June 3rd.
The meeting also cast doubts on the conclusion of Âmbar’s projects.
A survey presented by the agency’s own technical area showed that the four J&F plants would only be ready in October, that is, three months after the deadline stipulated in the contract.
“It is necessary to remember that the low-income consumer is the most penalized by these costs”, said the lawyer Flavio Siqueira Junior, who represents the Polis Institute.
In a note sent to the report, Âmbar Energia stated that “it is confident that its proposals serve the public interest, by generating savings of up to R$8 billion for the country’s energy consumers and 15 times lower greenhouse gas emissions. than the energy delivery by the four plants foreseen in PCS 2021”.
Âmbar also stated that the meeting of the collegiate board of Aneel this Tuesday attested that the four plants are in an advanced stage of construction and will be delivered within the period established in the contract.
However, a study of the technical area presented at the meeting, to which the report had access, points out that the plants can be ready in October — and the deadline for rescission of the contract is August 1st.
“If Aneel decides not to use the Mário Covas Thermal Power Plant and waives the consequent price reduction for consumers, Âmbar will deliver the energy through the four contracted plants, without the proposed economic and environmental benefits”, said the company in text.
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