Difficulties in electricity supply are already part of the national landscape. On the other hand, electricity consumption is growing stronger than the domestic product, exacerbating the relative scarcity of energy, a situation that would be corrected in normal markets via higher prices. However, in electricity the adjustment is much slower due to the time constraints that exist to increase production and also by some rigidities that inhibit competition at the level of final consumers, a topic that I will address in the following lines. The current rules of the electric business have their origin in a law passed in 1981. At that time, almost all of the three segments that comprise it was in the hands of the State and was inspired to stimulate its privatization. Consumers were classified according to the size of their consumption in regulated (the captives) and it was assumed, somewhat heroically, that larger (free) customers could negotiate the price and conditions of their supply, even if materially they could only be Supplied by the distribution company in whose concession territory they are located. Since then, regulation has been changing by correcting distortions and failures that inhibit investment in generation, moderating the monopoly power of some actors, restricting vertical integration between generation and transportation, liberalizing access to transport networks, and so on. Now it touches the micro-stimulating competition at the level of end consumers, a true “empowerment” of consumers, as it has happened in recent years in other local industries such as telecommunications and airlines. In that line they point out part of the last changes introduced with the Law Short whose impulse was not sufficient to incorporate the commercializadores and was very timid in the matter of incentives for a more efficient use of the energy. However, the current state of affairs allows the final consumers to assume a much more active and free behavior and as a result of this greater competition is possible that a cycle that would lead to two virtuous consequences: lower prices for final consumers and greater efficiency in The use of energy resources at the country level, helping to cope with the current situation. It is perfectly possible that something similar to what happened years ago in the field of long-distance telecommunications will happen. Tariffs fell significantly and innovation has greatly improved the quality of service. The question is why electricity goes so far behind other goods whose markets have been opened in a decisive and decisive way to competition. Is it because the electricity can not be accumulated, will it be by the age of the distribution network?
A relatively recent article in the Wall Street Journal of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics Vernon L. Smith is extremely illustrative of why this delay. He rightly points out that hotel rooms and airplane flight seats are not cumulative either and that in both industries their actors have developed imaginative ways of pricing their products to respond efficiently to daily, weekly or seasonal variations in demand. The problem is basically the monopolistic nature of the business of “wires” in which the companies that own them are not disputed by the end customer because they are held captive. Deregulation in telecommunications is extremely illustrative of how the legal monopoly of wires prevented competition. Until a few years ago only the supplier company could check the installation of our houses and we could only use the equipment that she herself sold us. The reason was that the safety and quality of the network had to be protected, but these were no more than excuses to limit competition in products and services that are completely separable from regulated activity. The lack of competition in the supply of electricity at the level of final consumers is also the main reason for the lack of innovation. Once the final consumers realize that the available technology favors both competition and efficiency in energy use, we will see much more activity and creativity in terms of supply contracts and will arise markets in which goods such as released power At peak times and surplus energy or power. The prices of these will be the incentives required to make economically viable many projects that make possible a more efficient use of energy and the use of renewable energies on a significant scale. Something similar happened in Brazil a few years ago as a result of its crisis of supply emerged market solutions such that caused consumers to “rationalize” their behavior so that consumption came to regain the pre-crisis level several years after outdated . The energy challenge is of great importance for Chile and could become a bottleneck. Let the end consumers of energy be part of the solution and not just the problem.
Juan-Pablo Bórquez Yunge
Lawyer and Economist