The year 2023 will not only be marked by power disputes in view of the presidential elections, but it will also be a crucial year regarding energy concessions. Between 2023 and 2026, the contracts of 17 hydroelectric dams expire and that is why Kirchnerism decided to play ahead of schedule and present a bill for the dams to be managed and operated by Energía Argentina S.A. (Enarsa).
Although the opposition agrees that a solution must be found to the expirations, they warn that "Enarsa is managed by La Cámpora, so nothing good can come out of it".
Kirchnerism proposes that La Cámpora manages the hydroelectric plants
The bill -of four articles- was presented in the last hours by Senator Oscar Parrilli, very close to Vice President CFK. The text proposes that Enarsa should manage the continuity of the hydroelectric concessions of national jurisdiction, in partnership with the provinces of Neuquén, Chubut and Río Negro.
Parrilli is not alone in his request; the initiative also has the signatures of the Kirchnerist senators Silvia Sapag, from Neuquén, Silvina García Larraburu from Río Negro, Carlos Linares from Chubut and the national legislator who has been in the news in the last few days, Martín Doñate.
"At the end of the hydroelectric concessions of national jurisdiction... the administration, operation and exploitation of each of the hydroelectric exploitations opportunely granted in concession will be assumed by ENERGÍA ARGENTINA S.A (ENARSA)", describes article 1 of the bill, which in turn adds that Enersa will be able to commercialize the electric energy produced by the dams.
On the other hand, Article 2 of Bill K establishes that Enarsa will have to associate with the provinces that own the domain of the water resources involved in the hydroelectric developments "through agreements under the conditions and parameters agreed by the parties", reads the text, which also clarifies that the provinces will be able to incorporate the participation of private capital.
The bill of the senators close to Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is presented at a key moment, since next year, specifically in August 2023, the concessions that today control the operation of the hydroelectric dams in the Patagonian provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut will expire.
Transfer of hydroelectric dams: what did Parrilli say about his project?
In this sense, and to argue the initiative presented, Oscar Parrilli said that this project was introduced in the National Congress "within the framework of the so-called State Reform carried out during the 90's, Law 24.065 was sanctioned, which privatized the administration, operation and exploitation of the existing hydroelectric exploitations from the public to the private sphere, through 30-year concession contracts, with the exception of the binational entities".
In turn, Parrilli considered that it is important to deal with the issue, since the "complex international situation" derived from the war in Eastern Europe "has placed in the center of the public debate the need to accelerate the development of our hydrocarbon resources, conventional and non-conventional, in order to guarantee the domestic supply and place growing surpluses in the foreign market, as well as to strengthen the development of alternative sources, such as renewable ones".
Another of Senator K's arguments is that not all the country's hydroelectric resources can be assigned to the private sector, since they have not generated, by themselves, greater investment or expansion of the sector; he even assured that the sector is in decline compared to previous years.
"The experience of almost 30 years reveals that private management alone does not necessarily generate greater investment, nor does it guarantee the expansion of the sector. Since the concession of the hydroelectric exploitations, a period of decline in the participation of hydropower in the energy matrix began. From 43% of installed power in 1994, it decreased to the current 25%", described the national senator.
After his criticism of the private sector, Parrilli insisted that within the framework of the energy transition process to come in 2023, it is necessary and "extremely important" to provide the National State "with an effective instrument to boost investment in renewable primary sources, contributing to the diversification of our energy matrix, through a strategic association with the provinces that own the water resource, with a strong federal sense and the participation of the private sector, when deemed convenient".
The opposition does not trust Enarsa or the K's.
After the presentation of the bill promoted by Kirchnerism and which will probably be approved without problems, at least in the Senate, the opposition distrusts and questions the effectiveness of the proposal, arguing that "ENARSA is managed by La Cámpora", which would give much more power to the ultra-K sector.
Precisely, Oscar Parrilli's bill also suggests that ENARSA could retain 51% of the total domain, "since in this way it could simplify and streamline the operations in its different areas and operate in line with the provisions which, in global energy matters, are set forth by the national government".
In an interview with iProfesional, the national legislator Francisco Sánchez, who is a member of the Energy and Fuels Commission of the Lower House, expressed his opinion about the bill presented by Senator Parrilli, and although he admitted that it is necessary to look for a solution for 2023, he warned that he disagrees with the proposal because "ENARSA is managed by La Cámpora".
"Indeed, it is necessary to find a solution, and in that sense it is being asked that the concessions pass to the provinces, but the Nation with this project is looking for ENARSA to be the main administrator, a company managed by La Cámpora, so nothing good can come out of it", said the deputy from Neuquén.
And he added: "La Cámpora has proven to be not only inefficient with respect to the management of public bodies, but also everything is very obscure. To the inefficiency they add a lot of obscurity and political purposes that are far from promoting the common good for all Argentines, but rather they act specifically for a political sector".