19-04-2018 Marcos Peña entra a casa de Gobierno para reunirse por el tema tarifas Foto David Fernández

The Government accepted a refinancing of gas bills. However, the distribution companies of that service had already raised the possibility in November, before the public hearing where the increase was decided. There was recommended “a predictable billing system for all customers”, as a way to have a flat rate.

The Ministry of Energy already ordered a refinancing of winter gas consumption in 2017. A portion of the bills for the cold months could be paid during the summer. However, that generated a financial cost, because the companies billed in winter but charged in summer. In the middle, there was inflation. The gas distributors sought the Executive Power to reward them for this increase in their costs. But the Government refused.

On the deferral of the payment announced yesterday, in the companies there was little information. What they understood is that 25% of the invoices issued between July 1 and October 31 will be financed in three installments. Adherence to the system is optional.

The discussion on the flat rate started in these months for the political sectors, but since November it has been in the notes exchanged between the gas distribution companies (such as Gas BAN and Gasnor) and Enargas, the regulator.

“The establishment of the same amount for each bimonthly invoice, calculated individually based on historical consumption” was one of the slogans proposed by the distributors, such as Gas BAN, for the application of rates for 2018. The company estimated that the high winter amounts They could provoke conflicts and that is why he proposed a way to avoid them.

The Executive Power looked at the idea with good eyes. But he did not want to take care of the financing costs, because he understood that it did not help in the fiscal goals.

The companies suggested “differentiate two semiannual periods: winter (from the third to fifth bimester of billing) and summer (covering the sixth bimester, and the first and second of the following year)”, to be prorated consumption.

The balance between the seasonal periods was going to “regularize” twice a year, according to the companies. The implementation of this modality was from the third quarter of 2018.

“A customer R3-1, with 1,050 cubic meters of consumption per year, will have greater predictability about their payment,” the companies proposed. That client’s monthly winter bill would decrease from $ 1,637 to $ 1,389, according to estimates that Gas BAN made for the public hearing in which it requested increases.

The refinancing of the winter balances during the summer also caused some headaches in the summer season. It was because certain clients ended up receiving invoices four times higher in January than in October, as explained by Clarín in its Jan. 22 issue.

Increases in gas have always caused conflicts. In 2016, the increases were rejected by the Supreme Court of Justice and forced the Executive Power to hold a public hearing to adjust rates, a modality that was established during that year and 2017. In the political wing of the Government they already talked about “tariffs” flat “during that winter, which was also colder than usual and caused high bills.

The Government also agreed to the refinancing of 2017 after certain tensions. The Minister of Energy, Juan José Aranguren, announced it after the primary elections (PASO) so that the decision was not seen as an electoral campaign tool of the ruling party.