By Luciano Costa
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Electricity Sector Monitoring Committee (CMSE), made up of government members and energy technicians, decided to maintain the use of more expensive thermoelectric plants to meet demand, after rainfall recorded below the historical average in recent months, even in the midst of a period traditionally favorable to rainfall.
Led by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, CMSE has shown concerns about the level of storage of hydroelectric power plants, Brazil's main source of generation. Since October, the collegiate has approved the use of more expensive thermals than those provided for in its system programming models, in order to preserve storage in the plant's lakes.
Despite the contribution to security of supply and to the recovery of dams, the constant use of thermal plants has been one of the factors behind the high increases in electricity bills forecast for this year.
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"The CMSE maintained the guideline for the adoption of exceptional measures for proper handling of cargo," said the Ministry of Mines and Energy on Tuesday night, after meeting the committee.
In addition to the use of thermal power plants, the CMSE has also approved energy imports from Argentina and Uruguay. At the meeting on Tuesday, the group also decided to authorize the National Electric System Operator (ONS) to schedule the activation of thermal plants using liquefied natural gas (LNG) two months in advance.
According to the CMSE, there was an improvement in the level of water reservoirs in all regions, except in the South, due to the rains in March, which practically marks the end of the so-called “wet period” in the region of the plants, traditionally started in November.
The committee noted in a note that the rains in the hydroelectric dams region in the last seven months were the worst ever recorded for the period from September to March in a history of 91 years.
"Regarding the forecast for the next few days, the prospect of sparse rains in the Southeast Region was indicated, with no prospect of significant volumes in the country, a behavior that typically characterizes the transition to the dry period," he pointed out.
ONS projected that thermal generation in the Brazilian system this week should average 4.7 gigawatts on average.
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