Transmission expansion in Argentina 6: Distribution companies, regulation and the Public Contest method
Stephen Littlechild and
Carlos J. Skerk
Energy Economics, 2008, vol. 30, issue 4, 1527-1535
Argentina's 1992 electricity reform introduced the Public Contest method, which made major expansions of the transmission system the responsibility of users rather than the transmission company or regulatory body. It was sometimes said that the incentives and penalties on distribution companies were inadequate, and that they did not support transmission expansions to improve quality of service, notably a reserve transformer in the tourist town of Bariloche. We note that, in practice, the incentives and penalties varied significantly between Federal and provincial jurisdictions. Although the penalties were scheduled to increase over time at the Federal level, the Federal regulator ENRE reduced the severity of their enforcement, thereby reducing the incentive to support expansions. In practice, however, distribution companies supported all but 2 of 14 expansions proposed by the transmission concessionaire. In both these exceptional cases the provincial regulators opposed the expansion. At Bariloche, the provincial regulators argued that there were better ways of providing the quality of service, and refused to allow the distribution companies to pass-through the costs to customers. Later, provincial regulators began to introduce improved arrangements for enabling distribution companies to pay for transmission expansions.
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