The imminence of an El Niño phenomenon in Colombia during the second half of this year has set off alarm bells in the electricity sector, due to the impact it may have on energy supply and tariffs.
Most of the electric energy in the country is generated from hydroelectric plants, so the level of the reservoirs is very important, since in addition to being a source of clean energy they provide a reliable support to the system that guarantees that light reaches the homes of Colombians.
Currently, reservoirs are at average levels of 58% full, but with an extreme drought and an increase in demand, this 58% could drop to worrying levels, which could cause energy rationing.
"Hydroelectric plants, the main sources of electric power in our country are mostly located over the Andean region of Colombia, one of the regions that may suffer the greatest impact in terms of the decrease in water levels that, of course, feed the reservoirs that help us produce energy," said Flover Rodriguez, director of the Colombian Association of Energy Geologists and Geophysicists.
"Our electrical system and our reservoirs are in a state of low energy availability with respect to demand, the balance is very unstable and in the face of any event we could suffer a deficit," assured Sandra Fonseca, director of Asoenergía.
This alert also brings with it announcements of possible high energy prices due to the need to turn on more thermal plants and have companies very exposed to price volatilities, energy rises in price and will also be charged to users.
"We have had recent days with stock market prices above $550, $600, $650 because, obviously, what is beginning to be foreseen is that if there is no water, what we have to start using is greater technical generation capacity", explained Alejandro Castañeda, executive director of Andeg.
Despite this panorama, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, and the president of EPM, indicate that there is no rationing alert for now and that units 3 and 4 of Hidroitunago will enter to support the energy matrix before November 30.
"We know that there will be an El Niño, but we do not know how long there will be an El Niño, and in view of this uncertainty scenario, it is considered a good practice at a global level to be cautious and assume a long El Niño and save the largest amount of water, which means that the tariff effects of the El Niño will start today", said Jorge Andrés Carrillo, president of EPM.
For XM it will be necessary that the energy generated with fossil fuels, including coal, will have to support the hydroelectric plants during this drought period in the country.