The Ministry of Energy, headed by Eduardo Rodríguez Chirillo, once again extended the concession contracts for the hydroelectric plants for 60 days of Comahue. These are Alicurá, El Chocón Arroyito and Cerros Colorados, located in the north of the Patagonian region, as well as Piedra del Águila. In addition, it established the continuity of Energía Argentina (Enarsa) as overseer for the three dams.
The measure was ordered through resolution 2/2024, published this Wednesday in the Official Gazette. This way, For now they will not return to the hands of the national Stateas the previous government had written in the 2024 budget bill.
In the case of the Alicurá, El Chocón Arroyito and Cerros Colorados plants, this is the second extension for the concessions, after the 60 days established in resolution 574/2023 of July 10, and the 100 days established on last October 9 with resolution 815/2023.
These concessions, after a duration of thirty years, expired on August 30 and the new extension will begin on January 19.
Today’s resolution, on the other hand, establishes a first extension of the Piedra del Águila plant, whose contract expired on December 29. In this case, the 60-day extension will be counted from February 28.
The concessionaires whose contracts expired are AES (Alicurá), ENEL Generación (El Chocón Arroyito), Central Puerto (Piedra del Águila) and Aconcagua Energía (Cerros Colorados).
How the concessions will continue
Through decree 287 of February 22, 1993for the purposes of the reorganization and privatization of Hidroeléctrica Norpatagónica (Hidronor), the constitution of a series of companies was established, among which were Alicurá, El Chocón and Cerros Colorados, for the hydroelectric complexes of the same name.
Although the concession contracts establish that, Once the term has expired, the plants automatically pass to the State, the possibility of extending it for a maximum period of one year is stipulated.so they can be extended until August (Alicurá, El Chocón and Cerros Colorados) or December (Piedra del Águila).
The Ministry of Energy, based on the information presented by Enarsa and the National Electricity Regulatory Entity (ENRE), last year ordered the extension of the same “in order to preserve the safety of people and assets located in the Basin”.
In this way, the concessionaires “must continue to be in charge of the corresponding Hydroelectric Complex and comply with all their obligations derived from the contract” during the extended period. This will allow, the recitals point out, “an orderly transfer of both the assets and the operation.” and maintenance of the plants.”
During his administration, the former Minister of Economy Sergio Massa, had defined that the hydroelectric plants return to the hands of the National State, once their concessions ended. In the last days of the electoral campaign, the former candidate for president of Unión por la Patria had incorporated a change to gain support from the governors: that the provinces were also part of the management. However, with the triumph of Javier Milei, everything will be different.
Chirillo, Secretary of Energy, was in Congress last week to defend the omnibus law and referred to the issue when asked by one of the legislators. Regarding the concessions, he left the stage open: “The contracts literally expired. The concessions will revert to the national State and then it will be decided whether Enarsa takes them or they are re-tendered.”
However, where he did mark a position was that whatever the decision, The provinces will be left out of the management of hydroelectric dams, an issue that provincial governments reject. On this topic, Chirillo said: “The contracts legally expired, the assets revert to the National State, it is clear in law 15,336 (which is still in force), which was not altered by the 1994 reform that recognizes the provincial “original domain”; but in the case of hydroelectric plants, the rivers were always provincial, the National State reserved the hydroelectric use, the waterfall was reserved for the National State, the concession over all the sources of the rivers. Energy is different from water, the determination of the uses of the river is a power of the provinces (or interjurisdictional basin authorities). They will revert to the State and then it will be decided whether Enarsa takes them or they are re-tendered. But there will be a link with the provinces: in the SEN we will create a permanent link, to understand each other without fighting.
However, in his first public statements, the current Minister of Infrastructure, Guillermo Ferraro, had assured that the Government’s intention was to re-tender the concessions, under the libertarian premise that private management is always more efficient than state management.
With information from the Télam Agency