Ribera seeks to 'remove' 9,500 million from the electricity bill and alleviate its political cost

The Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera , has started the year with a fixed idea, that of carrying out a structural reform that, in addition to lowering the electricity bill, alleviates the political wear and tear that the energy crisis is causing the Government. The purpose of the third vice president is to reduce the costs of the electrical system by up to 9,500 million euros , according to sources familiar with the progress of the ministry consulted by La Información. This time, the ministry hopes to boost collection based on laminating revenue from renewables .

The department is negotiating behind closed doors the ins and outs of a measure that goes through adjusting in advance the guaranteed remuneration applicable to the oldest green facilities that operate under the primate regime known as Recore (renewables, cogeneration and waste). This was installed in 7.1% , or 7.4% in the case of those operators who agreed to desist from any legal offensive against the State for the 2014 reform, which substantially cut renewable premiums.

The idea that Ecological Transition has been negotiating with green operators for months involves modifying the application of the law that establishes the calculation of the rate of return of these renewable installations. The current norm establishes that said remuneration parameters may be adjusted for regulatory periods of six years, as well as marks "regulatory semi-periods of three years", at the end of which the estimates of income from the sale of energy will be reviewed. The current semi-term ends this year.

The Government plans to collect up to 2,500 million from the income from renewables in 2021. The figure would rise to 7,000 million at the end of 2022.

The ministry's proposal involves advancing the compensation adjustment to this year, in view of the fact that the current price scenario has triggered the profitability of the Recore as a whole well above the agreed threshold. The fact that these installations sell in the pool at market prices explains the boost experienced by the income of the renewable sector this last year. Given that these installations started 2021 with a reference price of around 30 euros MWh , but have ended up charging an average of around 200 MWh due to the evolution of the market.

Through this adjustment, which the Government wants to apply to the results of 2021, the last full year, the ministry plans to obtain a liquidity injection of up to 2,500 million euros charged to the income from renewables for that year . The collection planned for 2022 amounts to another 7,000 million . The idea of the Executive is to use this item to reduce the costs of the electrical system and, with them, the regulated part of the electricity bill that consumers pay.

The Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera

The contrast between the amount that the Government expects to collect from one year to the next is explained by the evolution of market prices. Since the cost of energy began to skyrocket in the second half of 2021, the lag throughout that year is much tighter. While the futures market anticipates an average price of 210 euros MWh for all of 2022 , which would explain this extra payment.

Ecological Transition is handling this whole matter with the utmost reserve, something that did not happen with the processing of the royal decree against the carbon dividend of electricity companies. The ministry has asked the group of renewable companies and associations that participate in the negotiation to assume a commitment of maximum confidentiality, as this newspaper advanced, in order to avoid a new public debate on the matter that could derail the proposal. The portfolio has been plunged into institutional silence, but the sources consulted assure that the ministry has granted this measure a level of maximum priority.

In any case, the Government will not have it easy. The giant Acciona, one of the most damaged by the measure, has become the figurehead of the opposition to the adjustment to the Recore, as reported by La Información in November. This is explained because one of the counterparts that the ministry has put on the table for renewables is its commitment not to review premiums downwards in the next review of the regulatory period , within three years, according to the sources consulted. Given that Acciona's facilities are close to the end of their regulatory life, the group would not benefit from the ministry's 'sugar ball' either.