Updated 05:16 AM EST, Fri, Nov 27, 2020

Argentina Faced with Increased Electric Rates

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Argentina's government has announced huge hikes in the country's wholesale electricity rates.

The price hike will be effective starting in February, the Argentine Energy and Mining Ministry said in Wednesday. It has not been established yet how much retail customers will be paying, but it will vary by region, according to a report from EFE (via Fox News Latino).

Although it constitutes the withdrawal of subsidies, rate discounts will still be given to homes that reduce their power consumption, the news outlet wrote. In addition, there will be a minimum rate for families with low income.

Power distributor Edenor, power transporter Transener, and Pampa Energia, which provides the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in Argentina, are regarded as three of the biggest gainers in the South American country's stock market benchmark index, the Merval. The latter recently saw a 3.2 percent increase to a two-week high, Reuters reported.

Edenor's shares went up to 3.7 percent, Transener's rose 5.6 percent, and Pampa Energia's climbed 5.5 percent, Reuters listed.

Rates for clients of Edenor and Edesur, another electricity distributor, will be announced this week, according to officials from the two firms, the news outlet added. The companies' clients reside in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, where citizens pay one of Argentina's lowest rates. The monthly bill there for a three-bedroom house is usually around 50 pesos ($3.61), and rates are almost frozen for the last 13 years.

The state news agency Telam said that the rate increase will be between 200 and 300 percent for the biggest consumers, but this will be reduced if consumption is less than 300 kilowatts per month. The Energy Ministry defended the price hike by noting "the existing disconnect between real costs and prevailing prices," EFE further reported.

Edenor and Edesur officials said that the wholesale rate hike mirrors a sharp reduction in state subsidies, Reuters added. Those subsidies had permitted distributors to purchase cheap power.

Officials also said that the new rates represented the wholesale component of the consumer's tariff, and that the final bill would indicate fees to the power generator and local taxes. An Edesur official said that "there will be a new tariff structure on Friday, once we've done the calculations with these new prices," the news outlet reported.

In December, President Mauricio Macri's administration announced that the country is anticipating the reduction of funds allotted to the state to subsidize household consumption of gas and electricity, according to EFE. Cutting energy subsidies is one of Macri's priorities to address a primary fiscal budget deficit, which increased 5.8 percent of national output in 2015 under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's presidency.

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