The way in which the concession for the distribution of low voltage electricity (BT) is solved is currently one of the main issues in the field of Portuguese energy policy.
The socio-economic development of Portugal depends on the continuity of the existence of a harmonized electricity tariff at national level, on the stability and security of the electricity supply and, in short, on the right of access to basic services: electricity and public lighting.
Currently, the 278 municipalities on the Portuguese continent have this activity under concession to eleven BT network operators, with EDP Distribuição (now E-Redes) being the dominant concessionaire for historical as well as technical and economic reasons.
The municipal concession agreements, some of which have already been extended, have different terms until 2026, the vast majority of which will end between 2021 and 2022.
It is important to make quick and transparent decisions.
As a historical communal prerogative, the distribution of electricity in BT, which could be managed independently by each of the communes, was concentrated at the national level due to the logical technical-economic necessity in Portuguese reality.
The opposite would be a mistake that would harm home and business consumers.
Therefore, there is a single concession for almost all of the continental territory currently held by E-Redes.
A few years ago, the state political governance understood, based on the neoliberal principles applicable at the time, that a tendering process for the award of future concessions for the distribution of electricity would be indispensable. Something that would not be mandatory in the European context.
In mid-2018, ERSE submitted three proposals for the geographic allocation of future concessions to the public consultation.
The idea retained went by dividing the continental territory into three parts, as transparency and competition were necessary to protect the interests of consumers.
However, within the same political framework, a few years earlier it had been decided to grant EDP the National AT / MT Distribution Network (RDT) for a period of 35 years (until 2041) with no public tender and no tender payment to the state!
RDT is closely related to LV power distribution networks. This determines the flow of ideological justifications that are currently forcing the introduction of market rules to justify a forced and separate treatment of these two infrastructures.
The supposed benefits of dividing the distribution grid into regional plots are as credible as the theories that about two decades ago suggested that electricity would be cheaper with liberalization. Reality was responsible for clearing up this mystification.
While this can be seen as a potentially beneficial factor for EDP, a locally installed company, it cannot be overlooked that it actually represents, contrary to general national interests, a possible fragmentation of power distribution activity through the separation of the BT and MT voltage levels as well the geographical division of the BT networks and the separation of public lighting.
In other words, if the tender is considered mandatory, it should have a national territory object at national level for distribution and associated public lighting.
The government has manifested itself in this vein, although the exact reasons for such a benign manifestation are not known.
However, there are many and varied loads on the division into business blocks. Some of these lobbies are concentrated in the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas as obviously the communities with the highest urban and economic density are more desirable for the power distribution business.
ANMP and the government should favor the national whole, taking into account the common good, and oppose the immediate and selfish interests of some communities.
For EDP, an installed reality, it is necessary that the mandate in the tendering process conditions its disproportionate ambitions and brings them back to a reasonableness shaped by general interests.
The author writes according to the new orthographic convention